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Although no intent to harass sexual innuendo violated female employee’s dignity

Makbool Javaid
sexual harassment

In Prewett v Green King Services Limited, Ms P was a pub manager. P joined in a conversation with the employer’s risk manager Mr Bentley (B) and the regional business development manager, Mr Gaunt (G). B said to G: “do you know what a growler is?” G replied “no” and B said to P, “if you know don’t tell him”, and then he told a joke about “a bloke saying when I ask for a growler, I don’t want a pork pie”. P felt uneasy as she did not understand what ‘growler’ meant and asked a colleague, who told her that it was a slang term for a vagina, which she confirmed via a Google search. She then fully understood the nature of the joke and felt unhappy about it. On another occasion when B visited the pub, P asked him, “what do you want to see first?” and he replied, “depends what’s on offer?”. P thought ‘here we go again’ and then B touched her on the back of her shoulder as they moved towards the pub’s kitchen area. An ET upheld P’s claim of sexual harassment. B had engaged in low level, poor taste humour with sexual innuendo amounting to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. While B’s purpose was not to harass P, in all the circumstances, including P’s perception of the behaviour, it was reasonable to conclude that it did violate P’s dignity and created a hostile working environment. The ET awarded P £5,000.

The updates are kindly provided by Simons Muirhead & Burton Law firm

This update provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and help judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for more information.  Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

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