Following on from yesterday’s post on the ex-NHS manager who was awarded over £1 million  Direct 2 Lawyers read today that another multi-million pound award has hit the news. According to the Daily Mail the chief executive of Match Group (a medical staffing agency) was dismissed from her role in 2011 after an accountancy scandal. She subsequently sued her ex-employers for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, on the evidence below, presumably sexual harassment.

Ms Beasdale stated that she had been almost driven to the brink of a mental breakdown as a result of the unfair treatment that she had received during the accounting scandal in 2011. She also asserted that she was regularly degraded by male colleagues in sexually explicit emails and harassed physically by other employees. The 41 year old informed her employer of these problems but the issue was ignored. Although Ms Beasdale continued to operate in her role during the discriminatory conduct and harassment she was eventually dismissed, the article states, for no good reason.

Ms Beasdale was pursuing Match Group for direct discrimination (on the facts), sexual harassment and unfair dismissal (among other possible claims such as wrongful dismissal, deduction from wages etc.).

In order to show direct sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 Ms Beasdale would have to have shown that she had been treated less favourably by other employees at the Respondent because of her gender. She would have used the discriminatory remarks, physical harassment and sexually explicit emails as evidence of this and would have compared her treatment against a male comparator in similar circumstances. If it was deemed on the balance of probabilities by the Employment Tribunal that such conduct was discriminatory her employer would have no defence.

To succeed in her claim for sexual harassment Ms Beasdale would have had to demonstrate that the conduct that she was subjected to was sexual in nature, that it was unwanted, and that it had the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her or violating her dignity. An important element to look at is “was it reasonable for such conduct to have that effect on Ms Beasdale?”. Again, the sexually explicit emails would probably have been key as evidence in this matter. There is also no defence to sexual harassment.

Her claim for unfair dismissal would have look at the reasonableness of the decision to dismiss her and whether a proper procedure had been followed. If Ms Beasdale had already showed discriminatory treatment during her employment then this would normally be deemed to be an adverse inference towards the fairness of her dismissal (depending on the particular circumstances). According to the article, she was dismissed for no good reason. This would suggest that the Tribunal doubted the substantive fairness of her dismissal – that her dismissal was not within the reasonable range of responses given the circumstances. This is normally quite difficult to show (more difficult, anyway, than procedural unfair dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal found on the facts that Ms Beasdale had been subjected to sex discrimination, sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. She was awarded £2.2 million in compensation. This would have been composed of past loss of earnings, any shares, bonuses, commission etc. that she was due, potentially future loss of earnings, a Vento award for discrimination, and potentially aggravated damages.

If you think you’re about to be dismissed, are being discriminated against, or are suffering harassment it’s important to keep a record of all events that have taken place. Keep any documentary evidence that you have possession of (such as emails, as above) and maintain a diary. These could prove crucial if you go to an Employment Tribunal.

If you think that you’ve been unfairly dismissed, discriminated against or harassed get in touch with Direct 2 Lawyers and we’ll put you in touch with an expert employment law solicitor.

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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