‘Good Girl’ – sexist language in the workplace!

An accounts executive was subjected to “unwanted sexual advances” from her “condescending” boss whilst working at the company headquarters in London.

An employment tribunal heard how the employee was repeatedly called “good girl” even after she “showed her irritation” by directly expressing to her manager that it was condescending and that she was an “independent woman”.

The manager was also alleged to have mocked the employee’s weight by showing her photos from her Facebook profile, then laughing, saying “she looked fat”. Whilst on another occasion he is said to have puffed out his cheeks and pretended to be overweight, making her feel “degraded and humiliated”.

On an overnight business trip, the manager “insisted” in joining the employee where he made unwanted sexual advances towards her including attempting to “kiss and touch” her in her hotel room. The employee later felt forced to delete a dating app after he joked about signing up to it. The employee said she felt “shocked, disgusted and threatened” after he suggested it would be funny if he organised a date with her disguised as someone else and turned up instead of the person that she thought she was meeting.

The employee complained about her manager’s behaviour but was told that she had “participated in the behaviour”. The employee resigned, telling senior staff that “the continued bullying, victimisation and less favourable treatment I’ve received as a result of a previous harassment grievance, not creating a safe environment to work in, forcing me to work in a hostile environment and not supporting a reasonable request to move into a different team to allow me to perform well, is the final act and one I can no longer tolerate.”

The Employment Judge ruled: “We are an experienced Tribunal and note that documentary evidence indicating such a discriminatory culture is rare. The harassment started slightly at first with comments, particularly about her appearance and her standing (i.e., good girl) which then escalated into inappropriate advances.”

The tribunal ruled that the employee was sexually harassed and treated less favourably because of her rejection of the harassment. Compensation will be determined later but expected to be significant.

121 HR Solutions can assist in training managers in managing equality in the workplace- simply contact us and we will be happy to discuss enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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