In case it were needed, the Daily Telegraph today reported on a case where “laddish” behaviour in the workplace led to a substantial payout for the female Claimant, Miss Angelina Ashby, which included £15,000 for injury to feelings and £9,158 for loss of earnings. Read the article for the details, but this case should serve as a reminder that this sort of behaviour just isn’t acceptable in the workplace.
Male workers made unpleasant jibes about her weight and appearance and viewed pornography online. When she issued a grievance she was criticised for being too sensitive and “unmanageable”. She won her claim for sex discrimination and constructive dismissal against her employers. There are no great surprises there.
However, two aspects of this story stood out for me from this report. The first was that the employer worked on Ministry of Defence marine contracts, which must mean that at some point they had been through a tendering process. Many (but perhaps not all) tendering processes for government and QUANGOs often require that the employer adheres to employment law best practice. Was that the case here, as clearly, in this instance, what was going on was as far from employment best practice as you could imagine?
The second factor is that Miss Ashby lost her equal pay claim. She was reportedly paid £13,500 per annum in her role as a sales executive, while three male sales executives were paid £24,000 and this was justified on the basis that they were “proactive”.
I wonder what this means? That they simply brought in more business than Miss Ashby? I assume, although we are not told (and this is only a report in a newspaper and not a legal journal) that she brought her equal pay claim on the basis of “like work”, which means work which is of the same or broadly similar nature in which there are no differences of practical importance in relation to terms and conditions of employment”. It will be interesting to know how the difference in this case was justified if it was other than simply based on commission earned.