Taylor v BT Directories Limited trading as Customer Street Leeds Tribunal March 2011

Ms Taylor worked as a sales executive in a highly pressurised sales environment and her manager was Mr Alcock whose style was one of bullying, using offensive, obscene homophobic and racist language.  Although she complained about this behaviour it continued and she resigned in August 2009.  Mr Alcock was subsequently disciplined and dismissed.   

In October 2009 Ms Taylor began to suffer from psychiatric ill health and she claimed sexual harassment and unfair constructive dismissal from BT.  BT admitted a long list of offensive comments and behaviour and conduct amounting to a breach of Ms Taylor’s contract of employment.  Medical evidence agreed that Ms Taylor remained vulnerable to psychological distress although she could probably work in the future in a less stressful environment than at BT.  Her loss of earnings were calculated over 83 weeks.  Her condition was not expected to improve in the next 30 months so she was awarded 36 months’ future loss of earnings which amounted to £117,000, £20,000 for injury to feelings and personal injury and aggravated damages of £3,000.  The tribunal calculated the total amount payable including tax was £289,879 because Ms Taylor would never reach the same level of earnings that she had before her resignation due to the harassment.   

Key point:  Although Mr Alcock was eventually dismissed, his behaviour had been tolerated by BT for too long.  The award of compensation reflects the cost to BT of this leniency.