Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the latest of our series of posts on Employment Tribunal cases from the archives, we examine the case of AM v GF and Balfour Beatty Rail Limited ET/3300089/10. In this case the Employment Tribunal found that a male employee ‘mooning’ a female employee in the workplace – a joke gone wrong – constituted sexual harassment.

The facts in AM v GF and Balfour Beatty Rail Limited

AM, as she was anonymised in the Tribunal’s judgment, worked as a receptionist at Balfour Beatty Rail Limited’s Ruislip depot. GF was a male colleague at the Ruislip depot with whom AM was on good terms, albeit GF worked in a different area in the depot.

On 7 October  2009 AM was talking with a colleague, Mr Cambridge, in the reception area when GF walked in, having just parked his car in front of a fire exit. AM pointed out to GF that his car was blocking a fire exit and that he shouldn’t do this again. There was then a conflict of accounts as to what happened next: AM said that she turned away to resume her conversation with Mr Cambridge but, upon turning back to GF, she saw that he had dropped his trousers, bent over with his hands on his knees, and was shaking his bottom; AM’s recollection was that she could see his whole bottom, including his anus, and a lot of flesh. She stated that she was shocked and turned her head away.

GF’s version of events was that AM had told him that “if you do that again I’ll slap your ass”, to which he replied “you’re having a laugh, what did you  say?”. AM then said “I’ll smack your ass”. He said that he then went o the side of the counter, two metres away from AM, and bared the top of his buttocks to AM saying “go on then” in a joking fashion.

AM then reported GF’s conduct to her line manager, Ms Beattie, and Ms Beattie advised that AM report the matter to the HR department. GF therefore approached the operations manager, Mr Lloyd, and proceeded to complain about the incident. Mr Lloyd noticed that AM was upset.

GF was subsequently dismissed on 20 October 2009 for gross misconduct after admitting that he had ‘mooned’ AM,  with the chairman of the disciplinary hearing finding that GF’s actions amounted to obscene behaviour in a public place.

The Employment Tribunal’s decisions

The Employment Tribunal preferred the evidence of AM as to what had occurred on 20 October 2009, noting that Mr Cambridge corroborated AM’s version of events. The Tribunal found that GF had bared the whole of his backside but that AM had not seen his genitalia (as this would have been impossible); the Tribunal did find, however, that AM may have perceived that she had seen GF’s genitalia. The Tribunal found, further, that AM had been upset by the incident, as recorded by a number of people that witnessed AM shortly after the incident occurred.

The Tribunal found that GF’s actions had amounted to sexual harassment: his conduct was unwanted by AM (despite the history of ‘banter’ between AM and GF), that the conduct was sexual in nature, and that it was reasonable to consider the conduct as having offended AM – she perceived it as offensive and complained about it immediately, showing signs of distress.

The Tribunal also found that Balfour Beatty Rail Limited was vicariously liable for GF’s conduct, as it had failed to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent GF (and other employees) from engaging in actions which resulted in other employees being discriminated against, harassed, or victimised.

The Employment Tribunal awarded GF £4,500 in damages for injury to feelings, with GF being ordered to pay £1,000 and Balfour Beatty Rail Limited ordered to pay £3,500.

Our solicitors’ comments

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that a history of ‘banter’ between two employees will not prevent the Employment Tribunal from finding sexual conduct was ‘unwanted’ if it was entirely disproportionate to the nature of the ‘banter’ that had followed before.”

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees

Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk.

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.52 Average

21 Reviews

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 1 month ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 1 month ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 1 month ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 2 months ago

Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 2 months ago

Dominic

Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 2 months ago

Kurt

Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Resolved my issues

Posted 2 months ago

Keith

Quick fast professional service.

Posted 2 months ago

Michael

"Prompt, efficient and practical advice that resulted in me getting some additional money tax free."

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Patient and thorough advice given to me around my Settlement Agreement

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

"Excellent service, getting back to you promptly giving you very good advice."

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I found Chris Hadrill to be an excellent help, he is very knowledgeable and gives good ,concise ,strategic advice .He makes himself readily accessible when you need him.I would personally highly recommend him.

Posted 2 months ago

Christine

Professional, efficient and reliable service provided. I strongly recommend them and I would use this service again.

Posted 2 months ago