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

    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

    4.78 Average

    214 Reviews

    Rebecca A

    I had a wonderful solicitor called Caroline who was so helpful and gave me all the information I need and explained everything in detail so I was crystal clear. Would highly recommend if you are in need of a solicitor!

    Posted 3 hours ago

    Gareth J

    Very efficient, helpful and pragmatic support from Caroline. Happy to work with my requirements / suggestions but also made some very good points which helped to achieve a higher settlement amount. Would highly recommend Caroline and Chris.

    Posted 8 hours ago

    Ellen S

    Excellent, professional, timely. Friendly when I needed it most. Would recommend to anyone.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Ellen S

    Excellent, professional, timely. Friendly when I needed it most. Would recommend to anyone.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Cristina G

    Very professional and reliable. Timely answers, clear and to the point. Always looking for the best for their customers.

    Posted 2 days ago

    Rob T

    Very professional and on target - highly recommended.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Very efficient service and knowledgeable solicitors.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent response time from first contact. Quick and easy completion of documents required. Fast response to any queries I made.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors did a great job and were very professional at all times. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Gary P

    All good advice, prompt and efficient

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent advice and customer service.

    Posted 3 months 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 3 months ago

    Fern M

    Very efficient and friendly

    Posted 3 months ago

    Neville S

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

    Posted 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 months ago

    Rosa B

    Fabulous service all round.

    Posted 3 months ago

    Anonymous

    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 3 months ago

    Alkhas K

    Excellent service.

    Posted 3 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 4 months ago