“Fatty” WhatsApp message amounted to victimisation and harassment

An office assistant who was called “fatty” and told her boss wanted “slim, smart girls” in the office was a victim of harassment and victimisation, a tribunal has ruled. The employee, who was employed at textile company in East Kilbride, was subjected to “unwanted conduct” of a sexual nature and a “degrading working environment” by her employer for almost the entirety of her employment.

The tribunal ruled that Younas created the environment when he suggested she “cook and clean” for him, which it said was an “outdated image of a subservient female”, and subjected her to an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment”.

The employee was employed as an office assistant, promoted to office manager. Her line manager spent the “majority” of his time in Pakistan and supervised the workforce remotely on a daily basis using Skype, telephone calls, WhatsApp messaging and CCTV cameras installed at the premises. He sent the employee a WhatsApp message saying: “motee, u need to start gym,”. The employee explained to the tribunal that ‘motee’ meant ‘fatty’ in Punjabi. The employer also messaged: “I want u to be slim and smart,” and “boss also wants slim smart girls in [the] office”.

After these messages and other messages which were of a harassing and sexual nature, the employee complained and was summarily dismissed by letter alleging that she had been involved in the fraudulent theft of £17,718.

The judge ruled that the employee had been subjected to an environment of regular conduct of a sexual nature or that related to her sex, which “had the purpose or effect of violating her dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.

The employer was ordered to pay the claimant £18,984 compensation.

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