Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Mrs L Richardson v Neovia Logistics Services (UK) Ltd and Flex Recruitment Plus Ltd (In Creditors Voluntary Liquidation), the Employment Tribunal held that a female employee had been sexually harassed by a colleague who continually gave her ‘bear hugs’, and that she had been victimised after being ostracised by colleagues at work for complaining about the harassment.

The facts in Richardson v Neovia Logistics Services (UK) Ltd and Flex Recruitment Plus Ltd (In Creditors Voluntary Liquidation)

Mrs Richardson worked for Flex Recruitment Plus Ltd (“Flex”). Flex is an agency that provides agency workers in the transport business.

In 2012 Mrs Richardson’s marriage of 30 years ended in divorce. In February 2015, shortly after she started working for Neovia, she began a relationship with one of the delivery drivers. At about that time Mr Jowett, a Warehouse Operative whose work involved dealing with Mrs Richardson, began to make crude remarks about her partner and her sex life.

In June 2015 Mrs Richardson was involved in a car accident; the result of this was that she found herself having to undertake desk duties, which brought her into more regular contact with Mr Jowett. Mrs Richardson’s relationship with her boyfriend ended in July 2015 but Mr Jowett’s behaviour, including crude sexual remarks, continued; they also became more pointed as time went on. When Mrs Richardson complained or attempted to complain then Mr Jowett became critical of her work, and he would become agitated and shout at her; he would then apologise to her, but when he apologised he would often put his arms round her shoulder or give her a hug. Mrs Richardson began to suspect that he was using his conduct as a pretext to hug her, despite her telling him not to touch or hug her.

Over the months from July 2015 Mrs Richardson found that Mr Jowett’s behaviour in trying to give her a hug or physically touch her increased – for example, he would lean over her to retrieve his telephone, which invaded her personal space. She chose not to make a formal complaint, hoping that he would simply stop the behaviour.

On 6 November 2015 Mr Jowett gave Mrs Richardson a bear hug, and did so again on 13 November 2018 – on the second occasion Mr Jowett slid his hand across Mrs Richardson’s chest and touched her breasts and elbow. Mrs Richardson then told Mr Jowett “you do know this is classed as sexual harassment”.

Mrs Richardson subsequently complained about Mr Jowett’s behaviour, complaining that Mr Jowett repeatedly hugged her and sometimes ‘squeezed her bum”. No action was taken against Mr Jowett, whether formally or informally, but he was informed that a complaint had been made against him by Mrs Richardson. Mr Jowett was surprised and upset about this, and in turn submitted a complaint about Mrs Richarsson.

After Mr Jowett was informed of Mrs Richardson’s complaint he proceeded to ostracize her in the workplace, making jokes about sexually harassing her and continuing to sexually harass her.

On 4 December 2015 Mrs Richardson went to see her GP and was diagnosed with work-related stress; she was prescribed Fluoxetine, an anti-depressant.

On 19 November 2015 Mrs Richardson was due to have an appraisal with Matt Angell. She received a negative appraisal in this meeting, and was surprised and disappointed by this.. Later the same day Mr Jowett angrily approached Mrs Richardson and admonished her for not doing gate passes. It was pointed out to Mr Jowett that gate passes was not Mrs Richardson’s responsibility, but she did this voluntarily sometimes. Mrs Richardson noticed that attitudes toward her in the workplace had changed, and that the male managers appeared to have turned against her.

On 20 November 2015 Mrs Richardson suffered a panic attack and took time off work. She suffered a recurrence of the panic attack on 30 November 2015 and was then told that Mr Jowett was to be moved away from her.  Mrs Richardson subsequently reported the sexual harassment to the police.

On 9 December 2015 Mrs Richardson was told that the company had investigated both her complaint against Mr Jowett and his against her. The decision was that Mr Jowett would receive counselling but that otherwise the matter was closed. Mrs Richardson was upset and complained that no action had been taken about the bullying and sexual harassment. She was advised that if she wanted to take the matter any further she should make a formal complaint. Mrs Richardson was subsequently told that if she made a formal complaint Mr Jowett would be suspended from work; however when she made the complaint she found that not only was Mr Jowett in work but that he was working in close proximity to her.

On 18 December 2017 Mrs Richardson was signed off work and did not return to work thereafter.

Mrs Richardson subsequently brought claims for sexual harassment and victimisation in the Employment Tribunal.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET)

The Employment Tribunal found in Mrs Richardson’s favour in both her claims for sexual harassment and victimisation.

Sexual harassment

The Employment Tribunal found in Mrs Richardson’s favour in her claim for sexual harassment.

Victimisation

The Employment Tribunal also found that Mrs Richardson had been subjected to victimisation – she had submitted various protected acts (including the allegation of sexual harassment on 13 November 2015) and that she had been subjected to the following detriments, including but not limited to: being ostracised by her colleagues; being threatened with suspension; being blamed for ongoing issues at work

Our solicitors’ views on the case of in Richardson v Neovia Logistics Services (UK) Ltd and Flex Recruitment Plus Ltd (In Creditors Voluntary Liquidation)

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comment on the case: “If an allegation of sexual harassment is made in the workplace then employers should be careful to ensure that a prompt, thorough and fair investigation is carried out into the allegations – a failure to do so may amount to further discrimination or victimisation”.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Richardson v Neovia Logistics Services (UK) Ltd and Flex Recruitment Plus Ltd (In Creditors Voluntary Liquidation) can be found here.

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. 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 →

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

    Testimonials

    4.81 Average

    324 Reviews

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 21 hours ago

    Ade A

    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

    Posted 2 days ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service all the way through from start to finish. Really great support and guidance from the team, they secured the offer that I wanted. I can't recommend Redmans highly enough and will be sure to use their services again should the need arise.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 months ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 months ago

    ""

    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 months ago