Workplace comments – sexual harassment or just for fun?


0115 9886211An employment tribunal in the North East of England has hit the headlines after a female employee claims that her boss made comments about her blonde hair and physical appearance, along with the role of women in general.

Ms Carney claims that she felt she had to change the colour of her hair from blonde to brunette after her boss, John Clayton, made remarks about the way she looked. Alleged comments include whether or not he liked her clothing or appearance each day, commenting that he preferred the way she looked on her social media profiles than in real life, and that her appearance should be the benchmark when recruiting new employees, referring to her blonde hair and physical appearance. Mr Clayton also allegedly made comments that women were “best in the kitchen” and their role was better suited to “being at home”.

Dawn Carney was an employee of Darlington-based Star Radio, and was dismissed for her performance in the role of Commercial Director after taking time off for hospital treatment.

Mr Clayton is now facing a claim of sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. The outcome of the employment tribunal is still unknown.

Whether or not the claim is settled in Ms Carney’s favour, lessons can be learned about remarks made in the workplace, and whether these, regardless of intention, could be construed as sexual harassment.

The nature of office chit chat, and even jokes, can have a negative impact on one or more individuals, both male and female. Some comments could have serious repercussions for not just the perpetrator, but also the entire workplace.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or unfair dismissal, please call our legal experts at Alpha Law on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211.