Case law updates

Tribunal criticises investigation into sexual harassment claim

An Employment Tribunal has found that a sales manager was sexually harassed by her managing director, having been asked multiple times for a massage and having been asked to sleep with him.

Emma Woolf worked as a sales manager for Universal Science, a Milton Keynes-based thermal cooling material provider, from August 2016 until she resigned in November 2017. During that time there were a number of incidents that amounted to sexual harassment. Woolf resigned on 12 November 2017 and submitted a grievance letter in respect to non-payment of commission and allegations of sexual harassment.

At the formal grievance meeting the external consultant who was appointed to undertake the grievance investigation concluded there was “no evidence to support Emma’s allegations of sexual harassment”. She recommended that the grievance be dismissed due to lack of evidence. Subsequently, Woolf’s claims for sexual harassment and breach of contract were turned down.

The Tribunal thought otherwise, saying Woolf suffered sexual harassment by her employer and by her managing director. It went on to criticise both the respondent’s HR manager and the external consultant for having failed to fairly and objectively consider harassment allegations. “It was apparent to us that any reasonable investigation would have uncovered those matters which were expressed in evidence so convincingly before us,” adding that “neither… really looked fairly and objectively into the allegations and were quick to reach conclusions that there was nothing to support allegations made by the claimant.