Estate Agent Offered Sexual Favours By Female Boss Wins Discrimination Case
| Last updated
A male estate agent has won a discrimination case against his female boss at an employment tribunal.
Senior financial consultant Paul Elworthy, 45, was told by Sarah Thompson, 51, at a business lunch that, if he banked £180,000, he would be rewarded with a sexual favour.
Judges at an employment tribunal in South London unanimously ruled that Mr Elworthy had been subjected to direct sex discrimination by Thompson and should be compensated.
Elworthy told the hearing: "I attended a senior consultants' reward lunch. At that meeting, Sarah Thompson stated that she would provide me with a blow job if I hit £180,000 banked income.
"This was said in the presence of a number of people. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I did not report it as she was my line manager. I would not get a fair hearing."
Thompson, who works for Your Move at its regional HQ in Chessington, South London, denied the claims.
The firm's HR took action in 2015, and she responded: "Absolutely not. Do you really think I would ever say that? He might have wanted me to."
Elworthy had the support of his colleague, Giles Barrett, who joked upon hearing the comment, 'Does that count for everyone?', the trial heard. Thompson is said to have responded: "No, you're married."
The panel determined that although the comments did equate to sex discrimination they weren't harassment.
In their judgment, the tribunal ruled: "We have found that Ms Thompson's comment left the claimant feeling 'a bit uncomfortable' and 'not great'.
"It did not meet the bar for harassment but we find that the effect on him was nevertheless a detriment.
"It was a highly sexualised comment and we have no hesitation in finding that the comment was made because of the claimant's gender."
They added: "We find that Ms Thompson would not have made an equivalent comment to a woman.
"We therefore find that the comment was less favourable treatment because of sex and the claim for direct sex discrimination succeeds."
Elworthy also claimed he was forced out of the company and had to clean the toilets before an unfair dismissal. But the judges threw out this claim, with the man admitting he had never undertaken any cleaning duties whilst at the company.
A further hearing will determine the amount of damages.
The case is rare in that it is a man who has been sexually discriminated, and not a woman. In 2016, the website realbusiness.co.uk said the average award for a sex discrimination case in 2014/15 was £13,500.
Steve Cook, CEO of Empire HR, said: "Firstly, an employer must have discrimination and harassment policies in place that address sex discrimination including sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and family responsibility discrimination."
Source: SWNS Agency & Real Business
Featured Image Credit: SWNS