Being called a “good girl” was sexual harassment

May 3, 2022

 

By Rebecca Jenkins

In a recent case, a female employee succeeded in her sexual harassment claim against her employer. She had regularly been called a “good girl” at work. Read more about what lessons can be learnt from the case.

In the recent case of Fricker vs Gartner UK Ltd, the Employment Tribunal found in favour of a female employee who had regularly been called a “good girl” by her boss and pressurised into changing her social media profile pictures to ones preferred by her boss. The employer’s defence was that the boss’ behaviour was merely banter. That argument was rejected by the Tribunal.

According to the Judge in the case, “language evolves over time. Words and phrases that might once have seemed harmless are now regarded as racial, homophobic and sexist slurs.”

The case is a timely reminder to employers of what they need to do to avoid damaging discrimination claims. Indeed, defending discrimination claims can be expensive (with compensation uncapped), can result in extremely negative publicity for employers, and can cause lasting damage to the individuals involved.

Lessons to learn

  • Employers can proactively reduce the risk of claims by having written and up-to-date policies in place dealing with issues such as harassment and fair treatment at work. In some instances, having good, up-to-date written policies has even given employers a legal defence to certain discrimination claims.

  • Hand in hand with the above, policies are at their most effective when they are accessible and staff are given regular training on them. For example, we recently ran equality and diversity training sessions for all staff at a large national institution and this will undoubtedly reduce the risk of future discrimination claims for that employer.

  • Encourage a culture of open dialogue where staff feel they can turn to mentors / managers to speak informally about discrimination issues first.

  • Have clear processes in place for raising discrimination complaints more formally. Having such processes will help an employer show that they’ve done as much as they can and haven’t compounded the problem by ignoring the concerns.

If you need any information about employment law and discrimination, please get in touch with Rebecca Jenkins on 02920 829 130 or rjenkins@darwingray.com for a free, no-obligation chat to see how she can help.

 

 


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