PM Law has won a case at the Employment Tribunal for a woman who was sexually assaulted by a colleague and then subjected to a campaign of harassment and discrimination at work.
The judge and panel members expressed their complete dismay at the way she had been treated and praised her bravery and determination in bringing her case. They awarded compensation at the highest level possible to reflect the seriousness of the case, a total of £58,000. Of this, £30,000 was for injury to feelings.
The woman worked as regional account manager for Vickers Electronics in Manchester. In 2014, while at a work-related exhibition in Birmingham she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague. Although she reported the incident to her manager, the firm refused to suspend or sack her colleague and gave the reason that “he was the firm’s best salesman”. Her employer took no action against her colleague and offered her no support.
Laura Thorpe, employment lawyer at PM Law, says: “Our client suffered great distress at having to work with her attacker, who was allowed to continue in his job. She had reported the attack to the police and a criminal investigation was underway, but even so her mental health was seriously compromised. She resigned from her job in July 2014, having lost all confidence in her employer.”
She was then subject to further stress when her employer refused to pay her the salary she was owed until she returned a work computer she had been using previously. “Her employer knew that the police were holding the computer and that it was impossible for her to return it,” Ms Thorpe adds. “Withholding her pay was yet another act of harassment against her.”
The tribunal was visibly affected as the woman gave her testimony and recounted the serious and long-term psychiatric damage she had suffered. They agreed with all her claims for constructive unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Vickers Electronics went into administration during the criminal investigation so it is unlikely that the woman will receive any compensation from the company.
The man in question was found guilty of sexual assault, receiving a 6 month prison sentence.