Employment Law Case Update: G v London General Transport Services and others
Ms G was employed by London General Transport Services (LGTS) as a bus driver in late 2013 - a heavily male-dominated industry, with approximately 90% of the 500 drivers being male.
Ms G submitted two formal written complaints against other drivers who had allegedly made comments towards her of a sexual nature in late 2014 and early 2015. As far as Ms G was aware, LGTS had failed to come to any formal outcome. In June 2016, Ms G made a series of complaints relating to further comments of a sexual nature which she had received from her colleagues.
Ms G later wrote a group email to all 500 drivers stating that she did not wish to receive comments “that are of a blatant insulting sexual nature and/or those comments that have a sexual undertone to them.” A number of the allegations were set out in the email, which later said, “Keep your hands AND thoughts to yourselves.”
Ms G’s manager had previously warned her not to write group emails, and so responded to this, regarding it unacceptable and said that she must follow the proper procedure if she was concerned about sexual harassment in the workplace. He also warned that there was a chance of disciplinary action being taken against her for the email. She was subsequently signed off work on sick leave.
A few weeks later, Ms G had a meeting with two different managers at LGTS to discuss her return to work. At the meeting, Ms G submitted a written grievance for the sexual harassment. Ms G also covertly recorded the interview.
During the meeting, one of the managers laughed at Ms G’s descriptions of the treatment she had suffered. He told Ms G her colleagues were joking and also suggested that she deter prospective harassers by saying that she was pregnant or married. Ms G never returned from sick leave and resigned in September 2017.
Ms G brought claims to the Employment Tribunal (ET) for harassment, discrimination, and constructive unfair dismissal; she succeeded in all three claims. The ET found that a number of the comments constituted unwanted sexual conduct which had violated Ms G’s dignity, and created an environment for her which was intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive.
The ET also argued that Ms G had been treated less favourably than a man in her position would have been. LGTS trivialised and belittled her allegations, and by advising her to lie to avoid the harassment they failed to address the underlying inappropriate behaviour in the workforce. All of this had breached the mutual trust and confidence in the relationship, resulting in an unfair, harassing and discriminatory procedure which made her want to resign. Ms G was awarded more than £55,000.
This is yet another example of the problems associated with an inappropriate workplace culture. Awareness of these issues has been heightened in the last year with the #MeToo campaign and the Weinstein and President’s Club scandals – employers should be wary of the potential risk of liability involved.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.