In the case of Miss D Obi v Concentrix CVG Intelligent Contact Ltd (ET/ 2411443/2018) the Employment Tribunal held that sex-related harassment had taken placed after Ms Obi’s manager grabbed her around her waist and sent her a photo of him in his gym shorts.
The facts in Obi v Concentrix CVG Intelligent Contact Ltd
Miss Obi (The “Claimant”) commenced employment with Concentrix CVG Intelligent Contact Ltd (The “Respondent”) on 2 October 2017. She was employed as an Agent and was a member of the part-time team, contracted to work for two ten-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. She also undertook additional overtime on those days.
After completing training the Claimant started work as an Agent in early November 2017 under Mr Barton (Trainee Team Leader). From this point onwards the Claimant argued a number of comments and behaviours towards her amounted to harassment relating to her sex and race. Her claims related to a series of events between early November 2017 and a meeting which she attended on 3 June 2018 – these included comments from Mr Barton addressing her as his favourite, referring to her body and unwanted advice on enhancing it, showing a photograph of him wearing only boxer shorts, comments on wanting to have sex with black girls, grabbing her waist, and grabbing her waist and making inappropriate comments at an office function.
The Claimant was ultimately dismissed for call avoidance (following a final written warning on this matter). The Claimant accepted that there had been some valid call avoidance issues, and she did not assert in the final disciplinary meeting that any alleged harassment or alleged discrimination were the reason for her dismissal or the reason why the decision to dismiss had been made.
The Claimant brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for harassment on the grounds of race and/or sex and/or direct discrimination on the grounds of race and/or sex.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal found in favour of the Claimant on the allegations of sexual harassment based on her evidence in three of the incidents. These included:-
- The incident in early November of the photograph of Mr Barton wearing gym shorts (not boxer shorts in the Claimant’s evidence) was found to amount to conduct of a sexual nature;
- The subsequent incident in November where Mr Barton held the Claimant’s waist as alleged which was considered unwanted and of a sexual nature. This was seen as conduct having the effect of violating the Claimant’s dignity and creating an offensive environment for her (regardless of the purpose). This amounted to harassment relating to sex;
- On the incident on 5 January 2018 (although occurring on 6 January 2018) where Mr Barton grabbed the Claimant’s waist and made inappropriate comments this was found to have the effect of conduct that was degrading, humiliating and offence environment for the Claimant that was unwanted.
The Respondent was found to be vicariously liable for these acts of sex-related harassment as they were undertaken in the course of the relevant employee’s employment.
Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 applied which deals with the matter of unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic and which violates a person’s dignity or has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
The aspects of the claim relating to unlawful harassment relating to race was not found to be well-founded. The Employment Tribunal held that conduct complained of did not relate to race and therefore was not unlawful harassment related to race as alleged. One of the incidents submitted was submitted outside of the required time limit for bringing a claim, and was therefore not considered by the Employment Tribunal.
Our solicitors’ comments on Miss D Obi v Concentrix CVG Intelligent Contact Ltd
Stephen Norton, a Legal Executive in the employment team, commented as follows: “The Claimant succeeded with a number of her harassment claims, but this case is also a useful reminder that the failure to submit a claim within the relevant time limit can lead to the Tribunal refusing jurisdiction to consider the complaint. Claimants and Respondents are always well-advised to prepare their cases in good time being aware of the relevant time limit for submitting a claim in particular.”