Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-legal-secretary-told-she-looked-like-a-‘love-island-reject’-wins-sexual-harassment-claim-after-her-boss-said-she-looked-niceAlert – Legal secretary told she looked like a ‘Love Island reject’ wins sexual harassment claim after her boss said she looked nice

A legal secretary who was told she looked like a ‘Love Island reject’ has won a sexual harassment claim against her boss. 

Megan Bratt had been criticised by female colleagues at the solicitors’ where she worked for dressing like she was ‘on a night out’, while others mocked her for being ‘faked up with fake tan and false eyelashes’. 

But it was only after her boss Marcus Hall told her she looked ‘nice’ that she decided to quit her job before complaining about the senior lawyer’s behaviour.  

The remark by the family law expert was found by an employment tribunal to be to a sexual one which created an ‘intimidating’ environment for Miss Bratt who described feeling ‘violated’. 

The tribunal heard that over the six weeks of her employment, senior partner Mr Hall also told her how his former girlfriend had cheated on him with a younger policeman and had dating sites featuring lingerie-clad women on his work phone. 

Miss Bratt is now in line for compensation after successfully suing for sexual harassment.

The hearing in Lincoln was told that Miss Bratt, who is originally from Leeds and studied law at the University of Lincoln as well as holding a Master of Laws from the University of Law, began working at the firm on January 4, 2022, and quit on February 21. 

Within weeks, however, she started to complain about comments the then 60-year-old made to her which she said made her feel ‘very uncomfortable’.

The tribunal heard Mr Hall told her he was single and ‘went into graphic detail about his ex partner who he caught cheating on him with a 22-year-old police officer and described how he had found a used condom on the floor’.

Miss Bratt – who has had plastic surgery, the hearing in Lincoln was told – also accused him of standing close to her and commenting on her appearance.

‘One was in the kitchen on 2 February 2022 where [she] says Mr Hall leant against the wall with his arms folded and with a “creepy smile” on his face commented that she looked nice and then asked if he was allowed to say it,’ the tribunal heard.

‘[Miss Bratt] says she found this violating (particularly in reference to the am I allowed to say it comment).

‘She told him he needed to be careful about what he said and Miss Bratt then made reference to Mason Greenwood (a footballer who at that time was accused of attempted rape and controlling and coercive behaviour, although charges against Greenwood were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in February 2023).

‘[Miss Bratt] says Mr Hall in response stated, “yes but he was a rapist”.’

The conversation made the legal secretary ‘freeze’ and not ‘know what to say’, the tribunal heard.

Two days later when helping Mr Hall install an app, the hearing was told Miss Bratt saw adverts from dating sites which showed images of women ‘dressed in lingerie in provocative poses on Mr Hall’s Facebook account’.

Two weeks later she was shown a video of Mr Hall’s girlfriend bent forwards in a skirt blowing a kiss.

After quitting the firm, Miss Bratt launched a grievance but the tribunal found that it was not conducted fairly as fellow staff who had worked with Mr Hall for more than 30 years didn’t take her complaints seriously.

The panel highlighted how one female colleague, Justine Fletcher, had made a ‘personal attack’ on ‘Love Island reject’ Miss Bratt, accusing her of ‘flaunting’ herself on social media, appearing in ‘a shocking state of attire’ and attending the office like she was dressed for a night out.

Another, Shona Nelson said she was ‘faked up with fake tan and false eyelashes’ and claiming her social media was ‘a lot more revealing in her own photos than what was in the videos and pictures shown by Mr Hall’.

The firm claimed at the tribunal that Mr Hall’s behaviour was just ‘office banter’ and that Miss Bratt had made the complaints because she was making mistakes at work.

The panel upheld her claim of sexual harassment based on a number of the incidents she complained about.

The tribunal said that while Miss Bratt felt Mr Hall telling her she looked nice was ‘unwanted conduct’ on its own it did not breach employment laws.

However, it did conclude that it was among a number of the incidents that amounted to ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’.

‘We find Miss Bratt felt it was uninvited conduct and we find it was of a sexual nature,’ the tribunal said.

‘We find it must have had the effect of creating the requisite intimidating or offensive environment for her especially because she refers to someone who was being investigated at that time about serious allegations about rape and controlling and coercive behaviour.’

The tribunal was heavily critical of the firm’s response to her complaints.

‘We are troubled that the way Miss Bratt chooses to dress or what she chooses to post on her social media is advanced as evidence of Miss Bratt not possibly being able to be offended upset or made to feel uncomfortable or intimidated by the things we have found Mr Hall did say and do.

‘The notion that the way someone chooses to dress means they cannot possibly take offence or be upset or offended by the matters Miss Bratt raised in the grievance is troubling particularly in a legal practice.

‘The personal comments made in this regard about Miss Bratt by [the firm’s] witnesses when investigating her grievances are wholly inappropriate and offensive.’

Miss Bratt’s compensation will be decided at a later date.

error: Content is protected !!