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Accusations about an affair did not amount to sex discrimination

Accusations about an affair did not amount to sex discrimination

In Grime v Early Action Group Ltd, an employment tribunal found that while a senior manager’s actions in expressing his views that Mrs Grime was a cheat and a liar, following the discovery that she was having an affair, amounted to constructive dismissal, she was not treated in this way because of her gender. The same would have happened to her husband if the situation was reversed.

Early Action Group (EAG) had been founded by Mr Barratt (B) and Mr Jennings (J). J sold out his part of the business but remained as an independent consultant. Mrs Grime worked at EAG and started an affair with J. This was discovered by Mr Grime, who also worked for EAG, at a company ‘do’. Mr Grime was so upset and angry that B, upon learning about the affair, told Mr Grime to take as much time off work as he needed.

Mrs Grime was unable to face her colleagues and did not attend work for 2 weeks. She then phoned B asking to return. B told her nobody would work with her and he called her a “cheat” and a “liar”. She still insisted that she wanted to come back, so B sent out a survey asking if the workforce would work with her. 45% said ‘no’. B told Mrs Grime she was suspended and threatened to take disciplinary action against her regarding her work when she did return. Mrs Grime resigned, claiming constructive dismissal and sex discrimination. She argued that she would have been treated differently if she was a man, and this was an example of men  “clubbing together” to support her husband, rather than to support her.

The tribunal found that in expressing his view of Mrs Grime’s affair, and calling her a cheat and a liar, B had created a situation whereby the claimant could never expect him in to deal with her fairly in the future. As such, there had been a breach of the implied term of trust of confidence and an unfair constructive dismissal. However, the reason for her treatment was because she was regarded as the perpetrator of a deceit and injustice towards her husband. He was seen as the victim and she as the villain. It had nothing to so with Mrs Grime’s gender.

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