How Fiona Martin, Employment Law Solicitor based in our Brighton office, successfully defended a business owner who had been accused of sexual harassment and assault.
Ron, a Director of a PR company came to us for advice as he was accused of sexually harassing Jane, their employee, over a three year period at various away weekends. She brought a formal grievance when the Directors told her they were not renewing her fixed term contract.
The incidents described had occurred when all parties were heavily intoxicated but had never been reported to anyone in the company until Jane made allegations spanning a three year period in a drunken outburst.
Fiona carried out a thorough investigation which included interviewing all the employees and contractors who had attended these events. As no-one had seen anything, these statements also had to deal with whether anyone had noticed that this employee was uncomfortable in Ron’s presence, and whether she had ever confided in any of them.
We helped the company’s co-director, Geoff, hear Jane’s grievance and also her appeal, as this was a small company with no other senior employees. Geoff did not uphold her grievance.
Jane issued her claim in the Employment Tribunal and tried to negotiate a settlement of more than £50,000. No settlement offers were made by our client, to the Claimant, throughout the proceedings, as a point of principle.
A five day hearing took place and all seven witnesses who had attended these Away Weekends gave evidence. This was necessary to show that this matter had been thoroughly investigated.
The Employment Tribunal Judge dismissed Jane’s claims on the basis that the Judge preferred Ron and his witnesses’ evidence.
Jane’s solicitor filed an Appeal to this decision at the Employment Appeals Tribunal but this was “sifted out” on the grounds that her appeal did not have any reasonable chance of succeeding.
Ron was pleased to clear his name and both Directors advised that they appreciated being represented by a firm that specialises in discrimination cases. They were happy that the allegations had been fully investigated so that all of their staff knew that there had been no “cover up”. This also meant that there was no loss of morale in their workforce.