Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Steele v Uniquely Chic Furniture (Cheshire) Limited and Michael Bennett 2401533/2017  the Employment Tribunal held that Ms Steele had been sexually harassed by her former employer and that she had suffered a serious psychological injury as a result.

The facts in Steele v Uniquely Chic Furniture (Cheshire) Limited and Michael Bennett

Ms Steele commenced employment with Uniquely Chic Furniture (Cheshire) Limited (“UCF”), a small furniture restoration and retail business, on 23 September 2015 as a furniture painter working on a part-time basis 2 days per week. Susan Scully was a director of UCF as was her husband, Michael Bennett.

On 10 December 2016 Ms Scully went on holiday with Mr Bennett to Mexico. While she was away she left a colleague, Hazel Riley, in charge of the business. Ms Riley raised with Ms Scully on her return from holiday a few issues that she had had with Ms Steele, allegations that Ms Steele denied.

On 22 December 2016 Mr Bennett called Ms Steele on her mobile telephone at 21:14. In this telephone conversation they discussed the reprimand that Ms Steele had received from Ms Scully and Mr Bennett told her not to worry about it. Mr Bennett told her he would call her back.

At 22:12 that night he called her back. After initially talking about work he then changed the conversation and told Ms Steele that he wanted to “fuck” her and “make love” to her. Ms Steele was hocked and tried to make light of what he had said. Mr Bennett then told her that he had an erection and that he had been thinking of Ms Steele ever since he had first seen her. He said she was beautiful. This call lasted for 48 minutes and ended at 23:00.

At 23:12 Mr Bennett then called Ms Steele again. Ms Steele took the call, hoping that he was calling to apologise to her for the previous call. Mr Bennett continued, however, to discuss sex and told her again that he wanted to “fuck” her. He told her she would not lose her job but that, even if she did, he would still pay her. Ms Steele took offence at this as she saw it as a suggestion that she would be like a prostitute. He ended the conversation by telling her that she should keep their conversation “secret” and asked whether she was recording the call. This call ended at midnight and at 00:14 Ms Steele texted her sister: “My boss has been on the phone for last 2 hours saying he’s in love with me and wants to fuck me. and after fucking me he wants to make love. Omg Wft. All I want is job 0”. The next morning Ms Steele made some handwritten notes of the call.

Ms Steele was supposed to be working on 23 December 2016 and was to be picked up by Ms Scully at 9am. She was driven to work by Ms Scully. She attended work that day but on 4 January 2017 could not face going in to work, so did not attend work. She also reported the incident to the police and on 5 January 2017 was signed off work sick by her GP. Her GP’s note records stated that Ms Steele had informed her that she had been sexually harassed by her boss.

Ms Steele did not return to work and resigned on 16 January 2017, stating that the reason for her resignation were the telephone calls from Mr Bennett on 22 December 2016.

Ms Steele made claims in the Employment Tribunal for direct sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Steele v Uniquely Chic Furniture (Cheshire) Limited and Michael Bennett

The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Steele’s claims for direct sex discrimination and sexual harassment, given that it found that Ms Steele’s account of what occurred in the telephone conversations on 22 December 2016 was to be preferred.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Steele £20,500 in respect of injury to feelings and £6,000 by way of damages for personal injury. The Tribunal also awarded Ms Steele £2,201.31 in interest on these sums.

Our solicitors’ view on Steele v Uniquely Chic Furniture (Cheshire) Limited and Michael Bennett

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “In claims for discrimination and harassment a crucial element in succeeding with any claim will be the contemporary recording (preferably in writing) of the conduct that occurred, in order to demonstrate what occurred and when. A failure to do so can often be fatal to a Claimant’s chances of succeeding with a claim.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal on liability can be found here and the judgment on remedy can be found here.

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

    Testimonials

    4.79 Average

    274 Reviews

    Mary B

    I was very happy with the work Chris did for me. I believe with his help I secured a more favourable outcome both financially and in terms of clauses contained in the legal agreement I ultimately signed. I had utmost trust and confidence in the advice Chris provided throughout. Chris kept me informed at every stage and I found him very efficient at bringing matters to a conclusion without unnecessary delay.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Mark M

    I found Redmans very easy to work with. Mel was very responsive, her advice led to an improved settlement. . Recommended.!

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    Fantastic service. I would recommend Redmans to anyone who needed a Solicitor. The communication was second to none and consistent clear guidance was given.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Everyone I dealt with at Redmans were professional, empathetic & always responded promptly and helped make the transition as smooth & efficient as possible for me. If you need legal advice, don’t hesitate & contact the team.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was incredibly helpful and professional. Timely and accurate advice at a time I most needed it. I was extremely impressed and grateful.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 2 months ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 months ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 2 months ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 2 months ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 2 months ago