A female driver and trainee highway inspector has been awarded £73,600 after the Nottingham Employment Tribunal found that she has been constructively unfairly dismissed after her boss had relocated her as he had found her attractive and wanted to become a ‘potential romantic interest’.
Kim Beaney worked for Highways England from April 2017 until August the same year when she resigned following harassment and discrimination by her colleagues.
When Ms Beaney started work for Highways England in April 2017 as a driver, she was told that the role could also lead to being a trainee highways inspector which would allow her an opportunity to progress within the organisation.
After attending the interview at Highways England, she received a text message from Grant Bosence who would be her line manager if she got the job and had taken her number from her job application. In the text conversations, Mr Bosence assured her that she would be given the job.
Mr Bosence initiated unsolicited text conversations with Ms Beaney who continued to respond as she feared that if she did not then her job offer would be taken away. However she made it clear that she was not interested in a relationship with him. Despite this, he invited her for a coffee at a nearby hotel to the Highways England office which she agreed to.
During the coffee meeting Mr Bosence made numerous attempts to impress Ms Beaney and even admitted that he found her attractive and wanted to pursue a relationship with her. He also tried to kiss her several times and she saw him on multiple occasions, all before starting her job role.
Ms Beaney started her job with the organisation in April 2017 and was placed at Highway England’s Sandiacre Site, rather than the Leicester Forest East site as she had expected.
The decision to relocate her was made by Mr Bosence and was because he wanted her to be under the supervision of Steve Curtis who was his close friend and so that he could keep a close eye on her.
Mr Curtis would often ask her personal questions and put in a good word for Mr Bosence. Ms Beaney caught wind of this and confronted Mr Bosence, who said that he would discipline her as she was being “troublesome” and reminded her that she was still on probation.
Ms Beaney attended an induction when she found out that she was expected at the Leicester Forest East site rather than Sandiacre and was told that one of the inspectors had not been happy she had not turned up.
As a result, Ms Beaney raised this with Mr Bosence and requested that she transfer back to the site where she was expected. However she was signed off work with stress in May 2017 and did not return.
Mr Bosence also complained to the organisation’s HR department about her alleged behaviour in order to paint her in a bad light as he knew that she would complain to HR about him.
Ms Beaney put in a grievance about Mr Bosence for taking her personal details from her job application. Her grievance was partially upheld and the company found that he had not acted on her request to transfer her to another depot however she could not be relocated as there were no vacancies.
She was signed off sick with stress in May 2017 and never returned to work. She issued claims for constructive dismissal and sex discrimination against the employer, Mr Bosence and Mr Curtis.
The Nottingham Employment Tribunal found that Mr Bosence’s behaviour was “upsetting, humiliating and offensive” and that it was “entirely clear from the evidence before us and to that degree the conduct was related to the protected characteristic of sex”.
The tribunal awarded Ms Beaney £73,600 compensation after finding that she had been constructively unfairly dismissed and harassed on the grounds of her sex.
This case reminds us that discrimination claims can be brought against employees, as well as the employer, and the employees will be jointly liable with the employer for the damages awarded to the claimant.
It also reminds us of the need to provide training to staff on issues of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
For any more information, please visit: Miss K Beaney v Highways England and other