Waitress – sexual harassment award

You wait ages for reports of decisions on injury to feelings awards, and two turn up at once. Following on from my last post about a gay member of staff bullied because of his sexuality, this is a more ‘traditional’ claim of workplace harassment of a female member of staff by her male manager.

To summarise the behaviour she suffered, taken from the ThisIsLondon Report:

Mrs Price was groped by her boss Peter Tunney after he learned she had had breast enhancement surgery to combat a hormone deficiency when she was 21.

Mr Tunney, 43, asked to ‘inspect’ the results and began a campaign of sexual harassment against Mrs Price.

The tribunal in Exeter heard that on October 29, 2006, Mr Tunney lunged at Mrs Price and tried to kiss her after a long day at work.

Four days later Mr Tunney, who the tribunal heard has a serious alcohol problem and has been involved in similar incidents with other women, tried again.

He forced her on to a sofa and kissed her while putting his hands up her jumper.

When she complained the employer’s response was to dismiss her, and by text message too. So far as the (admittedly less than reliable) news reports say, there seems to have been an injury to feelings payment of £23,741 from the employer, plus £5,256 from Tunney personally. It’s not widely known by the public that the perpetrators of discrimination are added personally to claims, but it’s always an excellent tactic by a Claimant. The payments seem to be at the top of the Vento guidelines, which must be right for what sounds as though it was serious harassment. The news report seems to hint that the Claimant was involved in the atmosphere of innuendo in the workplace – but we don’t know if the tribunal reduced compensation as a consequence, as it is entitled to do where the employee is complicit in some of the behaviour.

Furthermore as she was dismissed by reason of her complaint, she would also have a claim for victimisation, but it is not mentioned in the report if this was a separate head of claim.

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