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 take a look at the Employment Tribunal claim of Dos Santos v Preview Services Ltd ET/2700170/10. In this case the Employment Tribunal held that one sexual remark did not, on the facts, constitute sexual harassment.

The facts in Dos Santos v Preview Services Ltd

Mrs Dos Santos worked at Preview Services Ltd as a document scanner from October 2007 to November 2009. During the course of her employment she raised certain complaints that she claimed were not properly addressed by the company, including a request to change her shift hours, that a supervisor had been “rude and patronising” to her, that she had been refused assistance by a member of the IT department, that she had asked for, and been refused, an unpaid leave of absence, and that a supervisor shouted at her in front of colleagues. The relevant supervisor subsequently apologised to Mrs Dos Santos

After the apology Mrs Dos Santos wrote a letter to management to thank them for following the grievance procedure and to accept the apology. She wished to give this letter to management by hand but did not have an envelope; she therefore approached a supervisor, Mr MacDonald, and said “can I ask you a favour?”, with the intention of asking for an envelope. Mr MacDonald replied “as long as it’s not a sexual favour”.

Mrs Dos Santos was offended by Mr MacDonald’s remark but did not complain at the time; she later stated that she did not complain as she didn’t want to be seen as a “troublemaker”.

The next week a manager at Preview Services Ltd asked Mrs Dos Santos to attend a capability meeting. This was the second capability meeting that Mrs Dos Santos had attended and it related to allegations that she had not been paying attention to her computer screen. She was taken ill shortly before the capability meeting and was subsequently signed off work sick.

A number of weeks later, after the capability process had been delayed by Mrs Dos Santos’ illness and a cancellation by a manager, Mrs Dos Santos submitted a number of complaints (including a complaint regarding Mr MacDonald’s comment). The manager at the capability proceeding refused to deal with the complaint at the capability hearing and stated that it should be dealt with in a separate grievance procedure. Mrs Dos Santos resigned the next day.

Mrs Dos Santos subsequently made an Employment Tribunal claim for constructive dismissal, sexual harassment, and direct sex discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal rejected all of Mrs Dos Santos’ claims.

With regards to her constructive dismissal claim, the Employment Tribunal held that Preview’s conduct had not been sufficient to constitute a repudiatory breach of her contract of employment; the Employment Tribunal in fact held that the company had “worked hard with her to meet almost every request she made” and had dealt with her complaints in a reasonable fashion. The Tribunal also found that the fact that she had not complained about Mr MacDonald’s conduct immediately meant that she could not have seen this as a sufficient reason for her resignation.

The Employment Tribunal also rejected Mrs Dos Santos’ sexual harassment and direct sex discrimination claims, holding that although Mr MacDonald’s remark was “possibly unwise”, the only way it could reasonably be viewed was as a joke between colleagues with a long-term professional relationship. The Tribunal held that Mrs Dos Santos’ reaction to the comment was excessive and that it was not, objectively, sufficient to constitute harassment.

Our solicitors’ comments

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This is a case which, of course, turns on its own particular facts: Mr MacDonald’s comment was, according to the Tribunal, on the ‘low end’ of the spectrum of offensive behaviour in the workplace and there was no aggravating conduct by Mr MacDonald (for example, further comments, a request for a sexual favour, or an obscene hand gesture). However, it is well-established that in the right circumstances a one-off act of unwanted sexual conduct can constitute sexual harassment.”


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. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

Share →

One Response to Dos Santos v Preview Services Ltd – single sexual remark did not amount to sexual harassment

  1. […] serious enough in nature to constitute sexual harassment – the Employment Tribunal case of Dos Santos v Preview Services Limited ET/2700170/10 is a good example of a circumstance in which a single sexual remark was not sufficient to […]

Our awards

Request a callback

Your first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

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


4.77 Average

205 Reviews

Gary P

All good advice, prompt and efficient

Posted 3 weeks ago


Excellent advice and customer service.

Posted 1 month ago

Aneet G

I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

Posted 2 months ago

Fern M

Very efficient and friendly

Posted 2 months ago

Neville S

A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Daniel T

Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

Posted 2 months ago

Paul T

Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

Posted 2 months ago

Marina E

Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

Posted 2 months ago

Rosa B

Fabulous service all round.

Posted 2 months ago


Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

Posted 2 months ago

Alkhas K

Excellent service.

Posted 2 months ago

Mathias G

Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

Posted 3 months ago

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 4 months ago


Posted 4 months ago


I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 4 months ago


Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 4 months ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 4 months ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 4 months ago


Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 4 months ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 4 months ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 4 months ago