Ms Charlie Vernon, 28, was working for The Genuine Gemstone Company as a presenter when the incident occurred last year. On the day in question, Ms Vernon was presenting a segment of the show on antique bronze and copper items when her colleagues started making various inappropriate remarks that she could hear in her ear-piece, such as a “f***ing bitch” and a “big bitch”. Although Ms Vernon attempted to take these comments in her stride she became visibly flustered and finally reacted angrily by swearing at the persons in question, thinking that she was off-air when she did so. However, she was still live at the time and there was a complaint submitted which resulted in Ms Vernon losing her job on the grounds of gross misconduct. She subsequently submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for sexual harassment, victimisation, and unfair dismissal, and this claim came to the Birmingham Employment Tribunal earlier this month.
The Employment Tribunal heard from Ms Vernon’s former employer that they did not consider her to have been an employee of the firm and that she had only been freelancing. However, Ms Vernon countered this with evidence that she had been consistently employed by the firm for over two years and that the company had sent her on a training course to India previously. The Genuine Gemstone Company also alleged that Ms Vernon had been threatened with dismissal two weeks before this incident.
The Employment Tribunal found in Ms Vernon’s favour in her claim for sexual harassment (awarding her £3,250), but found against her in her claims for unfair dismissal and victimization.
Ms Vernon declined to comment after the conclusion of the Employment Tribunal hearing.