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ET rules that male agency worker is victim of sexual harassment after witnessing female employees being sexually harassed

In the case of Mr C Coffey v Coople (UK) Ltd Mr Coffey described two incidents he had witnessed. In the first in May 2021, a female manager was assaulted at the bar he had been placed in by the respondent – “a serious sexual assault”. A male member of staff “aggressively groped” her breasts in front of staff and potentially customers.

In the case of Mr C Coffey v Coople (UK) Ltd Mr Coffey described two incidents he had witnessed. In the first in May 2021, a female manager was assaulted at the bar he had been placed in by the respondent – “a serious sexual assault”. A male member of staff “aggressively groped” her breasts in front of staff and potentially customers.

Mr Coffey was shocked by this incident and submitted a complaint to Mr Prati, the Head of HR; in it he describes the incident and asks that the female member of staff’s welfare be checked. He says that he found the incident “offensive” and that it upset and bothered him. Mr Coffey says nothing was done, his complaint was acknowledged a month later, and after that he heard nothing further.

Mr Prati said that they had been in contact with the brewery and the incident was being investigated. Mr Prati thanked Mr Coffey for raising the issue “… and commend your integrity and sense of responsibility. I understand it must have been distressing…”.

Mr Coffey then witnessed another incident in June 2021. He complained in writing and in his evidence, he described a female staff member being pinned to a chair in the restaurant, and an employee sat and “gyrated” on her. Mr Coffey said the manager was assaulted and “reacted with outrage and anger”. He described the conduct as “an assault” and “absolutely unwanted behaviour”, she attempted to push the employee off “as she was pinned and was shouting get off”.

Mr Coffey says he found this incident offensive and referred to Ms Sarah Everard’s murder and women “asking for awareness and action to feel safe I ask again for you to address the above…”. Mr Coffey says he heard nothing from the respondent on this complaint.

The ET accepted that Mr Coffey was upset and concerned at the incidents he had witnessed, and that this hurt met the definition of harassment as his dignity at work was violated by what he had seen. He perceived this conduct towards female colleagues, quite reasonably, as demeaning and derogatory conduct by employees who felt they could behave in this way get away with it.

Mr Coffey was awarded £2,500 for injury to feelings.

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