News

Female painter and decorator wins over £90,000 in sexual harassment case after her boss asked her to work in suspenders next time she climbed a ladder and suggested she ‘should try escorting’


A female painter and decorator has won more than £90,000 in a sexual harassment case after her boss asked her to wear stockings and suspenders on the job and suggested that she tried ‘escorting’. 

Lisa Thomas was subjected to a litany of lascivious comments and unwanted sexual behaviour from ‘tyrannical’ colleagues at her male-dominated workplace, including one who told her ‘you look sexy in shorts.’

But when Kevin Graham was challenged about the remark he defended himself by stating that former Page 3 model Linda Lusardi was attractive when dressed similarly.

A manager also told her to wear stockings and asked to be stood at the bottom of the ladder described it as just ‘banter’.

Now after a legal battle that has lasted more than four years Miss Thomas has been awarded £92,113 in compensation including more than £32,000 for injury to feelings after successfully suing her employers for sexual harassment.

Making the award, Employment Judge Elizabeth Heap said she had been ‘deeply affected’ by the acts of discrimination.

Lisa Thomas began working for Jelson, a residential building company based in Leicester (pictured), in 2016 after her brother who also works for the company recommended them

Lisa Thomas began working for Jelson, a residential building company based in Leicester (pictured), in 2016 after her brother who also works for the company recommended them

‘She now has a significant distrust of men to the extent that she even flinches away from her own male children,’ she said. 

‘She finds it difficult to be away from her home other than when absolutely necessary and has to be accompanied by her father for support.

‘She has isolated herself from her family at times and has missed out on spending time with them, including young grandchildren.’

An employment tribunal was told she has been a painter and decorator for 20 years.

She began working for Jelson, a residential building company based in Leicester, in 2016 after her brother who also works for the company recommended them.

The East Midlands tribunal heard Miss Thomas was paid up to £750 to paint two and three-bedroom houses, and was often ‘the only female on site’.

In early 2017 the hearing was told she suffered a fall at the company’s Broughton Astley site in the Harborough district of Leicestershire one Friday, injuring the bone at the bottom of her back.

After resting over the weekend she returned to work on Monday but was ‘impeded’ by her injury.

Her ‘blunt and direct’ line manager – referred to only as MF by the tribunal – accused Miss Thomas of not having done much work.

She explained her aforementioned injury to her boss who, ‘without warning’, touched her the bottom of her spine (coccyx) and ‘in doing so touched her bottom’.

Miss Thomas described him as a ‘tyrant’ and a ‘bully’.

The tribunal heard this caused Miss Thomas both ‘shock and pain’, added to the embarrassment of her boss inviting another worker to ‘feel her coccyx’.

In December of 2017, Miss Thomas was told to ‘stop being a whiney (sic) b****’ by MF after she asked about her pay.

During another argument over pay, the tribunal heard that her boss told her if she wanted to be paid for doing extra work, she should ‘try escorting’.

Miss Thomas explained an injury she had to her boss who, 'without warning', touched her the bottom of her spine (coccyx) and 'in doing so touched her bottom' (stock image)

Miss Thomas explained an injury she had to her boss who, ‘without warning’, touched her the bottom of her spine (coccyx) and ‘in doing so touched her bottom’ (stock image)

He later messaged her asking her to ‘wear stockings and suspenders’ next time she was up a ladder, and to call him to ‘foot the ladder’, implying that he would stand at the bottom and could look at her underwear.

The tribunal heard another ‘hostile’ male colleague, Kevin Graham, known as Kev, would send her unwanted pornographic photos and videos.

In yet another incident in January 2018, the tribunal heard Mr Graham had made a comment about biting Miss Thomas’s chest. 

Mr Graham later asked if he could have a ‘kiss goodbye’ as she was leaving the site that day for another.

When Miss Thomas turned around after the comment, he allegedly exposed himself to her. 

In the spring of 2018 Mr Graham went to the site Miss Thomas was working at, and went into a bedroom where she was painting.

He told her she looked ‘sexy in her shorts and top’ – an allegation he didn’t deny but instead defended by stating, ‘Linda Luscardi [also] looks sexy in shorts’.

Miss Thomas complained about Mr Graham’s conduct and later also against MF to an ‘inexperienced’ HR officer at the company.

She began a period of sick leave two months later, citing ‘work related stress’, and launched a formal grievance in September 2018.

However, following her failure to provide sufficient detail surrounding her complaints – due in part to her phone being taken when her flat was burgled – the grievance was closed.

Miss Thomas appealed the decision, but still failed to provide supporting evidence. In February 2019 she resigned and launched her claims in an employment tribunal.

Employment Judge Elizabeth Heap said the instances of ‘unwanted’ sexual conduct ‘violated’ Miss Thomas’ dignity.

She said: ‘We accept…MF’s text messages asking her to wear a certain type of sexualised underwear…was intended for a sexual purpose on MF’s part.

‘We accept that Kevin Graham exposed his penis to Miss Thomas.

‘By its very nature, exposure of genitalia is plainly conduct of a sexual nature. It was also unwanted conduct which reasonably violated [Miss Thomas’] dignity.

‘We have accepted that Mr Graham told Miss Thomas she looked ‘sexy’ in shorts, before reaching forward out and pulling out her false eyelashes, grabbing hold of her, stroking her arm and grabbing hold of her genitals.

‘Miss Thomas had no interest in Mr Graham in a sexual sense, nor was there any ‘long standing friendship’.’

Miss Thomas’ other claims of constructive dismissal, wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, victimisation and direct discrimination all failed and were dismissed.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button