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In the case of Haines v Rainbow Theatre Productions ET/1400362/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that a female actor had been sexually harassed by a colleague and that her employer was vicariously liable for such. The Tribunal awarded her a sum of over £10,000 as compensation.

The facts in Haines v Rainbow Theatre Productions

Rainbow Theatre Tours (“Rainbow”) is a touring theatre company. Ms Haines is an actor and was engaged by Rainbow for its autumn tour in 2016. Also working for Rainbow for the autumn tour were Mr Lewandowski, Ms Turnbull, and Mr Payne. Rainbow’s registered company director was Nick Young, and Mr Young’s wife was the company secretary.

Ms Haines commenced employment with Rainbow on 30 August 2016, with her engagement expiring on 9 December 2016. Ms Haines became friends with Mr Lewandowski and Ms Turnbull, and conversations that took place between them were often of an overtly sexual nature. For example, Mr Lewandowski would ask Ms Haines whether she wanted to sleep with him, whether she wanted to have sex, and whether she wanted a three-some with himself and Ms Turnbull.

Ms Haines alleged that the following comments were made and conduct undertaken during the course of her engagement with Rainbow (including, but not limited to):

  • That Mr Lewandowski generally made sexual advances
  • That Mr Lewandowski asked: “do you want to sleep with me?”
  • That Mr Lewandowski asked: “do you want to have sex?”
  • That Mr Lewandowski asked: “do you want a threesome with me and Natalie [Turnbull]?”
  • That Mr Lewandowski called her a slut via Whatsapp
  • That Mr Panye said to her on 20 September 2016: “your tits aren’t as big as the last actress” and made comments about her breasts on a daily basis
  • That Mr Lewandowski pointed his penis at her at the end of September 2016
  • That Mr Lewandowski discussed sex with Ms Turnbull in front of Ms Haines
  • That Mr Payne stated that “I reckon it Helen’s vagina making those noises”
  • That on 5 November 2016 a photo was placed on Facebook showing a sexually explicit act

Ms Haines resigned from the troupe on 5 November 2016 after discovering the sexually explicit photograph on Facebook. She subsequently submitted a grievance on 5 November 2017 regarding the way in which she had been treated, but she was not contacted regarding the scheduling of a grievance hearing until 6 January 2017.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Haines v Rainbow Theatre Productions

The Tribunal found that the following conduct had occurred:

  • That Mr Lewandowski had made sexual advances towards her (and that this constituted direct sex discrimination);
  • That Mr Lewandowski had said “do you want to sleep with me?”; “do you want to have sex?”; and “do you want a threesome with me and Natalie?” (and that this constituted direct sex discrimination);
  • That Mr Lewandowski sent Ms Haines a Whatsapp calling her a slut (and that this constituted direct sex discrimination);
  • That Mr Payne told Ms Haines “your tits aren’t as big as the last actress” and made comments about her breasts (and that this constituted sex-related harassment);
  • That Mr Lewandowski had pointed his penis at her (and that this constituted sexual harassment);
  • That Mr Lewandowski used the word “cunt” in Ms Haines’ presence (and that this constituted sexual harassment);
  • That Mr Payne asked Ms Haines “you’re a lesbian, aren’t you?”
  • That Mr Payne stated that “I reckon it Helen’s vagina making those noises”
  • That a photograph was posted on Facebook showing an ejaculating penis near Ms Haines’ mouth

The Tribunal also found that the above-detailed conduct occurred in the course of Ms Haines’ employment.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Haines the following sums:

  • Lost earnings: £1,350 (with interest of £57.30)
  • Injury to feelings: £8,300 (with interest of £816.81)

Our solicitors’ view on Haines v Rainbow Theatre Productions

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that any complaints of sexual harassment are dealt with promptly, thoroughly, and fairly, and that employees are trained properly in equality and diversity matters. A failure to ensure that such a grievance process is followed, and a failure to ensure proper training in equality and diversity, can potentially expose employers to vicarious liability for its employees’ discriminatory or harassing conduct.”

The judgments of the Employment Tribunal 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).

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