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

4.78 Average

143 Reviews

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Extremely efficient. Mel made a difficult situation bearable and gave good clear guidance thoughout.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Thanks Chris and Sacha I was reassured throughout the process and a happy outcome

Posted 2 weeks ago

Edward F

Good and clear employment advice

Posted 2 weeks ago

Richard O

Chris at Redmans is my go-to legal expert when it comes to employee-related matters. His depth of knowledge, experience and considered approach to problems and their solutions is highly valuable. I cannot recommend Redmans highly enough.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Rory Y

They provide me with timely and clear advice!

Posted 1 month ago

Steven C

Redmans handled my settlement with my employer quickly, decisively and to a standard that I was very happy with. I would in similar circumstances contract them again

Posted 1 month ago

Deepthi K

Transparent. Clear communication. Prompt reply’s. Saves lot of time. Very satisfied.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris and Sacha did a fantastic job and negotiated a significant better settlement agreement

Posted 1 month ago

Dino D

I did get a very swift and god service from Redmans

Posted 1 month ago

Stephanie H

Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I would highly recommend Redmans Solicitors, the team were very friendly and my case was dealt with professionally and efficiently. Thank you!

Posted 2 months ago

Shane M

Very professional, welcome advice at a crucial time. Always available and reasonable cost.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

My case was relatively straight-forward. But even so, working with Redmans was easy, quick, professional & clear. Many thanks

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The team were very helpful and answered all my questions regarding my redundancy. Initially I had a call with one of the representatives who escalated my request to a suitable employment solicitor. We arranged a call to discuss the settlement and she helped answer all my questions. We then mainly contacted through email which helped resolve the settlement quickly and convently. Thanks for all the help.

Posted 2 months ago

Djaouida T

You have good communication.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional. A highly recommended company for employment related issues.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very professional service.

Posted 2 months ago

Brittany

I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

Posted 10 months ago

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 11 months ago