• Monday, June 27, 2022

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Court rejects high-profile female lawyer’s harassment allegations

A UK court, which set aside the divorce of an Indian-origin couple, said the wife’s signature was forged by or on behalf of the husband. (Representational image: iStock)

By: Pooja Shrivastava

IT is important not to encourage a “culture of hyper-sensitivity”, declared the employment tribunal as it rejected the allegations raised by a high-flying female lawyer who claimed to have been humiliated multiple times over his boss’ comments, reports said on Monday (2).

 

Nirosha Sithirapathy, 31, had filed 42 discrimination allegations against UK-based science and engineering company PSI CRO UK Ltd, including sexual harassment, harassment relating to age and/or sexual orientation along with victimisation claims to an employment tribunal.

Sithirapathy joined science and engineering firm PSI CRO UK in 2014. Two years later, she was offered a role in Switzerland, which she turned down citing “personal reasons”. However, she was left “upset and angry” when her manager Martin Schmidt asked why she didn’t want to move from the UK saying “you are not married, you don’t have children and you do not have a boyfriend”, the court was told.

The court was also told that the manager went on to say that the Switzerland office was “tolerant towards lesbians”. 

Later, she was denied a promotion citing her “young” age after which she agreed to join the Switzerland office, reports said. She left the British arm, relocated to a Swiss town only to be sacked after a month, the court heard.

When she tried to get her old job back, she was told that this was not possible as the position had been filled, Mail Online reported.

Employment judge Emma Hawksworth said that, while the comments about sexuality were “very clumsy and awkward”, they did not amount to harassment.

“However, we bear in mind the importance of not encouraging a culture of hypersensitivity or of imposing legal liability to every unfortunate phrase,” Hawksworth said in court.

Acknowledging Sithirapathy’s shock and dismay over her boss’ personal comments, the judge said that “Schmidt said, and we accept, that he would have made the same comments to a male employee”.

“Some of the comments made to Miss Sithirapathy were very unfortunate and clumsy. However, we have concluded that they did not cross the line such as to amount to unlawful harassment,” the judge said.

 

 

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