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

    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

    265 Reviews

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 day 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 1 day ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 day 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 6 days ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 week 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 1 week ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 week 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 1 week ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 week ago

    Alex K

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

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 week ago

    Dominica S

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

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 week ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Zara M

    Rana at Redmans gave me support and confidence I needed to ensure a wrong, was put right. I couldn’t recommend enough.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Stuart T

    Chris provided an excellent service, he was efficient and friendly and I had no doubt when recommending him to my colleagues

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, prompt responses. Chris Hadrill provided excellent and efficient service.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jane M

    Wonderful solicitors who really listen to you and who are there to offer expert legal advice but they also have a personal touch and you really feel supported both from a legal aspect but also from a personal aspect. They really listen .

    Posted 2 weeks ago