High-flying female executive was victimised by boss after she complained that he boasted about size of friend’s manhood at Christmas party, tribunal finds
- Angela Dawson complained after CEO Chris Short introduced her to a friend
- He allegedly asked her: ‘Have you met my friend, he has a massive p***s’
- They claimed she wasn’t offended because she joined in risque ‘banter’
- Her colleagues ‘closed ranks’ and forced her out of the IT recruitment company
A high-flying female executive was victimised by her boss after she accused him of boasting about the size of his friend’s manhood at a Christmas party.
Angela Dawson complained that CEO Chris Short had introduced her to a friend with the words ‘have you met my friend, he has a massive p***s’.
He and fellow bosses then retaliated against her subsequent claims of sex discrimination, ‘closing ranks’ and forcing her out of the IT recruitment company where she was a director, an employment tribunal has ruled.
Angela Dawson complained that CEO Chris Short had introduced her to a friend with the words ‘have you met my friend, he has a massive p***s’
In emails shown to the panel, they claimed that she couldn’t have been offended because she once made a risque cake of comedy character Borat as part of a work Bake Off event.
And they accused her of sending colleagues a Christmas card featuring a photo of her in fancy dress and making a sexually provocative comment.
The tribunal cleared the company of sex discrimination, arguing that Ms Dawson had waited too long to make the claims.
However, it did find the firm – Concept Information Technology – guilty of victimising her and firing her unfairly, meaning she will now be entitled to damages.
A hearing in Birmingham was told that Ms Dawson joined the West Midlands-based company in 2014. By 2017 she had been promoted to a director role.
The tribunal heard that as part of her complaint she said at a Christmas party in December 2015 Mr Short had placed his hand on her bottom
However, the following year she launched a grievance claiming that women at the firm were being discriminated against and badly treated by male managers.
The tribunal heard that as part of her complaint she said at a Christmas party in December 2015 Mr Short had placed his hand on her bottom.
‘At this same party, Chris Short introduced a male acquaintance to (Ms Dawson) by stating “have you met my friend, he has a massive p***s”,’ the panel found.
The tribunal heard that bosses at the firm were dismissive of her claims.
Shortly after her complaint, another director, Carl Short, sent an email to fellow executives pointing out that at a staff Bake Off competition the previous year Ms Dawson had ‘submitted a cake that depicted an image of Borat with his p***s hanging out’.
She had been laughing when he saw it, he said, observing ‘I think this is evidence that actually Angela wasn’t easily offended by such things’.
Ms Dawson went on stress-related sick leave and eventually resigned in June 2019
The same month, Chris Short sent an email with photographs of Ms Dawson in fancy dress taken from her Facebook page, and a sexually provocative comment, the panel heard.
He wrote: ‘The image/xmas card below was sent to me and all the staff at Concept in December. Interesting about one week after she was offended and disgusted by my alleged comments at the Xmas party.’
The tribunal disagreed with this claim.
Judge Mark Butler said: ‘Although the (company and directors) submit that (Ms Dawson) was not easily offended and engaged in sexualised “banter” herself, this does not negate the fact that an individual can… be offended by a physical and inappropriate contact and wording such as “have you met my friend, he has a massive p***s”.’
However, Ms Dawson had left it too late for her claim of sexual discrimination to succeed, the tribunal ruled.
But the panel did rule that in the wake of her complaint, company bosses ‘closed ranks’ on her, including treating her with hostility, saying she could no longer work from home, demoting her and falsely accusing her of gross misconduct.
Ms Dawson went on stress-related sick leave and eventually resigned in June 2019. The tribunal concluded she had been victimised and unfairly constructively dismissed.
‘Ms Dawson raised discriminatory allegations in a series of protected acts, and (managers) decided from the outset that the allegations were false and entered, what can only be described as, defensive mode,’ the panel said.
Compensation will be awarded at a later date.
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