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Cleaner wins sexual harassment claim

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Miss Ihekwoaba v Aston Services Group Limited, a cleaner was employed by Aston Services Group Limited for approximately five months when she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. Miss Ihekwoaba was Polish and white.  Mr Mustafa Ahmed was her Line Manager.

Previously Miss Ihekwoaba had texted her supervisor, Ms Thompson, stating: ‘Mustafa he came too close to my personal space and it wasn’t first time…. if you will be able please check on cameras fourth floor side on the first lady’s…..’.

Following that incident she again texted her supervisor: ‘again yesterday he used opportunities (when he was showing me something on stairs) and was touching my hand.  Horrible man.  Have a good day.’  Ms Thompson replied ‘you will have to tell him straight if he does it again.’

Subsequently a new area manager started who took over from Ms Thompson.  Miss Ihekwoaba was immediately subjected to a disciplinary procedure and suspended. A disciplinary hearing took place and she raised grievances against Ms Thompson and mentioned again that she had been touched by Mustafa. The disciplinary process was suspended, and she was invited to a grievance meeting. Eventually her grievance was not upheld, and she went on to be dismissed for gross misconduct for falsifying timesheets. She appealed both decisions, but neither of her appeals were upheld.

She brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for race and sexual harassment and victimisation on the grounds of sex and race. The ET found that she had been sexually harassed and she was awarded £6,000 for injury to feelings.

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