Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

redmans-blog-analysisIn the case of Furlong v BMC Software Limited (ET/2701283/09) the Employment Tribunal found the employer liable for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation where the employer had failed to deal with a complaint from an employee regarding colleagues’ use of and discussions regarding lap dancing clubs (and potentially prostitutes), and had discourage the employee from making a formal complaint about sexual harassment by a manager.

Ms Furlong commenced employment with BMC Software Limited as a senior accounts manager in February 2007. This role was male-dominated and there was a ‘macho’ sales environment. In 2008 Ms Furlong attended a work form in Nashville (USA). During the work forum a company event was held at a well-known bar called “Coyote Ugly”; Ms Furlong declined an invitation to this event and was later told that other women in the company’s party had been encouraged to dance on tables and that, should she have been present, she would have been “up on the table” topless. During the same Nashville event a senior vice president of the company, Mr Fenelli, groped Ms Furlong’s button and told her that he would “like to eat her like a marshmallow”. Ms Furlong reported this to her line manager but was told that reporting the incident “would not do [her] any favours”. She was also told in another meeting by another manager that colleagues had been speculating about Ms Furlong having an affair with a married colleague during the Nashville event.

In October 2008 Ms Furlong raised a formal complaint regarding the following: that she had been disadvantaged in the allocation of accounts; that the working hours of the company were a disadvantage to her as a single parent; that she had been sexually harassed by a colleague at a work forum in Nashville (USA); and that inappropriate venues were used by the company for meetings, including lap dancing clubs and brothels.

All of Ms Furlong’s grievances were rejected by Mr Lewis, who heard the grievance. He concluded, among other things,  that there was no “concrete evidence” of colleagues attending lap dancing clubs. Ms Furlong appealed this decision but her appeal was rejected. Ms Furlong then served a discrimination questionnaire on the company but was told that there would be no reply to this as it was “oppressive”. She subsequently made claims to the Employment Tribunal for direct sex discrimination, indirect discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation.

The Employment Tribunal found against Ms Furlong with regards to her indirect discrimination claims, finding that the new work regime (regarding the allocation of work and long working hours) did not put women at a particular disadvantage and did not in fact put Ms Furlong at a disadvantage (as she was able to make the meetings).

The Tribunal did, however, find in Ms Furlong’s favour with regards to her claims for direct sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation, holding that:

  • She was directly discriminated against by comments made to her about rumours of a relationship with a colleague in Nashville – the Tribunal found that she was treated differently from men in the office and that this less favourable treatment was on the grounds of her sex
  • She was directly discriminated against by being discouraged from making a complaint about Mr Fenelli’s conduct
  • The use of lap dancing clubs and discussions about the in the office amounted to less favourable treatment as she would not have been able to participate in such discussions
  • The failure to properly investigate her formal grievance amounted to victimisation
  • The conduct of Mr Fenelli constituted sexual harassment and that the company was vicariously liable for this (as it was in control of the environment within which the harassment took place)
  • The use of lap dancing clubs by colleagues, and the company’s conduct in acquiescing to that conduct, amounted to sexual harassment

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Furlong £12,000 for injury to feelings, £20,618 for loss of earnings, and £2,000 for personal injury.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to implement equal opportunities policies in the workplace and to take steps to educate their employees in these policies – a failure to do so can mean that the employer is held vicariously liable for acts of harassment by its employees, where it could have avoided that liability if it took reasonably practicable steps to implement the policies in the workplace.”

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 name

Your email

Your telephone number

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

4.76 Average

172 Reviews

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 4 days ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 4 days ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 1 week ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 2 months ago