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Tackling Bullying and Discrimination in the Workplace

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sexual discrimination in the workplace is still rife despite social and legal changes that have sought to correct the balance.

A recent UN Report has stated that women remain under-represented in Parliament and are on the whole, paid less than their male counter-parts.

In addition to these issues, women frequently encounter discrimination on the basis of their gender in the workplace. 

The extraordinary cases that make the headlines such as the female lawyer told to “Stay single” by her boss are just the tip of the iceberg.

A Case in Point

A recent discrimination case in the UK has seen a solicitor from the law firm Follett Stock allege serious claims of discrimination in the employment context.

Kate Baker, a former employee of the law firm Follett Stock, initiated a discrimination claim on the basis of unfair dismissal on the grounds of gender.

Ms Baker claimed that her boss wanted her to remain single and refrain from having children, a notion which he allegedly reinforced on a number of occasions. Ms Baker's case also included claims of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.

During the case before an employment tribunal, counsel for Ms Baker described a number of situations in which the managing partner, Mr Lingard, would use Ms Baker as a "distraction" in meetings with clients because she was a woman. Ms Baker was also described as "a real hit" with clients, although counsel for the defence denied that this was connected with her gender.

Counsel for Ms Baker also described a culture of bullying present in the firm noting that often women colleagues were reduced to tears by an aggressive Mr Lingard.

The law firm denied the allegations and claimed that Ms Baker's contract of employment was terminated because of a number of mistakes which she had made. Both parties have since reached a settlement.

The legal profession as a whole is renowned for its progress on equality in the workplace and legal employers are well positioned to fully aware of their duties of equality. The fact that female lawyers still face this type of discrimination must be highly disconcerting for other women, particularly those working in less progressive environments.

The Equality Act 2010

Litigation on the basis of unfair dismissal on the grounds of sex or gender has actually increased in the UK since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010. Under the 2010 Act gender and sex are protected characteristics.

The Act has two primary functions; to harmonize anti-discrimination law and to galvanize the law in order to support progress on equality. However, the Act offers wider protection than simply sexual discrimination to cover issues such as age discrimination, disability discrimination and sexual orientation.


The above case demonstrates that discrimination can occur in any type of workplace. Victims of discrimination, bullying or victimisation at work should not be afraid to stand up for themselves. Equality laws exist to protect all employees; if you are facing these types of problems at work contact Aneil Balgobin today via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848 to see how we can help you.