In the case of Ms S Alrajjal v Media 10 Ltd ET/3200154/2016, the Employment Tribunal held that a female employee was victimised when she was dismissed because she had complained of sexual harassment, with the Employment Tribunal awarding her over £11,000 in compensation.
The facts in Alrajjal v Media 10 Ltd
Ms Alrajjal commenced employment with Media 10 Limited (“Media 10”) in its sales team in 2015. The first three months of her employment was was a probation period – there was no written probation policy but Ms Alrajjal expected the probation period to be fair and balanced, based upon the comparative performance of the other team members.
During the course of Ms Alrajjal’s employment she was asked by her line manager, Mr Nicholson, to “wear a low cut top” in order to improve her sales performance.
On 5 August 2015 Ms Alrajjal made a verbal complaint about Mr Nicholson’s comment and senior management were made aware of the complaint. It appeared that she also meant to submit a written grievance but this was not followed up by her. Despite Ms Alrajjal submitting a complaint a grievance process was not commenced by Media 10; on 7 August 2015 Ms Alrajjal withdrew her grievance.
Ms Alrajjal’s probation performance review was delayed and she was then dismissed on 1 October 2015 on the basis of poor performance and alleged poor timekeeping. Along with Ms Alrajjal two other allegedly underperforming team members were also assessed – one male colleague, Johann, was moved to an easier sales role and the other, Seb, was dismissed. Based on the figures available Ms Alrajjal was the best-performing member of the team in terms of sales achieved but she was still dismissed.
Ms Alrajjal subsequently made various claims in the Employment Tribunal for direct sex discrimination, victimisation, and sexual harassment. Among other things, Ms Alrajjal argued that she had been dismissed because she had complained of sexual harassment.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET)
The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Alrajjal’s complaints of direct sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation.
The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Nicholson’s comment regarding wearing a low-cut top constituted sexual harassment – it was unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which had the purpose or effect of violating Ms Alrajjal’s dignity or creating an offensive working environment for her.
Direct sex discrimination
The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Nicholson’s comment regarding wearing a low-cut top also constituted direct sex discrimination – a male colleague would not have been subjected to such conduct.
The Employment Tribunal held that the reason for Ms Alrajjal’s dismissal was the fact that she had submitted a complaint of sexual harassment. The Tribunal criticized the lack of a written and transparent dismissal process, and found that there was not objective evidence that Ms Alrajjal had been late to work; equally, it found that other male team members who were not performing as well as Ms Alrajjal were not dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Alrajjal £11,504.09 in compensation, comprised of:
- Loss of earnings: £5,004.09
- Injury to feelings: £6,500
- ACAS uplift: £500.40
Our solicitors’ views on the case of in Alrajjal v Media 10 Ltd
Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comment on the case: “A key factor in the Employment Tribunal’s findings in this case was the fact that the employer lacked a clear, documented and transparent dismissal process, despite the fact that it employed over 250 employees. Employers should implement such processes in order to reduce the potential liability in any claims that are brought against them”.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Ms S Alrajjal v Media 10 Ltd: 3200154/2016 can be found here.