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 first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

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

204 Reviews

Anonymous

Excellent advice and customer service.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Aneet G

I would definitely recommend Redmans. Very impressed with service provided. They were extremely proactive in handling my case which made things easier for me. Provided sound advice and resolution. Special credit for this goes to Chris who dealt with my case with great determination and consideration.

Posted 1 month ago

Fern M

Very efficient and friendly

Posted 1 month ago

Neville S

A professional and friendly service, which I would highly recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Daniel T

Extremely helpful and made a bad situation much more manageable. Where other solicitors seemed disinterested in my situation Redmans immediately made me feel like it was a team effort to achieve a more favourable outcome

Posted 1 month ago

Paul T

Excellent, quick and informative. Chris was a real star and gave me confidence during the uncertainty if a redundancy settlement.

Posted 1 month ago

Marina E

Felt in very capable hands was listened to and given excellent advice. Would not hesitate to recomend and use again if needed.

Posted 1 month ago

Rosa B

Fabulous service all round.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans were quick to respond to my enquiry and dealt with my case professionally and personably. I received sound advice and was put at ease by Chris Hadrill, Partner.

Posted 1 month ago

Alkhas K

Excellent service.

Posted 1 month ago

Mathias G

Contacted them regarding my end of employment agreement. Chris Hadrill dealt with it and was done and handed back to employer same day more than happy with there service.

Posted 2 months ago

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Posted 3 months ago

submit

I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 3 months ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 3 months ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 3 months ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 3 months ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 3 months ago

Marie D

very good service all digitalised

Posted 3 months ago