Kim Beaney was employed by Highways England as a driver and trainee highways inspector from April until August 2017. When initially applying for the role, Kim was keen to get the job and saw it as an opportunity which would allow her to progress.
She was interview by Grant Bosence. Grant accessed her telephone number from her application form and used it to contact her from his personal mobile phone. He also contacted her on Facebook and there was a large exchange of messages between the two of them.
It was heard that Grant said in the messages that he would be her boss and would make the decision on who got the job. Kim kept the conversation going to help improve her chances.
In the texts and Facebook messages, Grant sent Kim photos of himself partially undressed in bed and referred to her as ‘sexy’.
When Kim got the job, she should have been assigned to work from the Leicester Forest East Depot. However, Grant had placed her at a different Depot to ensure she would work alongside one of his close friends. This friend, Steven Curtis, also became Kim’s supervisor because of the assignment.
It was found that this was a deliberate move by Grant so Steven could “extol [Grant’s] virtues as a potential romantic interest” for Kim, and to “control or exert authority” over her. It was held that Steven attempted to influence Kim to enter into a relationship with Grant by making comments such as you ‘could do worse’.
Kim asked that Grant stopped this conduct and informed him that she was going to rasie a complaint with HR. Grant however pipped her to the post and raised a complaint about her first. He said she had a poor attitude and would leave work without his consent. The tribunal later heard that this was an attempt by Grant to show Kim in a bad light.
Kim raised her grievances about Grant and the conduct she had experienced. She alleged he obtained her personal contact details from her application form, he messaged her continually, that she was being harassed and that she had issues with working with Steven.
Unfortunately, the manager responsible for investigating the grievance wasn’t the most experienced. He managed the process poorly and didn’t conduct a proper investigation. This was the company’s opportunity to take the appropriate steps.
Some of her allegations were upheld, but not others, and her request to move to a different Depot was refused. She appealed, but this was rejected with the offer of mediation.
Kim subsequently resigned claiming unfair constructive dismissal because of a breakdown of mutual trust and confidence, sexual harassment, direct and indirect sex discrimination.
The employment tribunal upheld Kim’s claims, stating that she had been “deliberately placed at a different Depot” for the sole purpose of Grant pursuing a “potential romantic interest”. The employment tribunal also held that the way in which Kim’s grievance had been handled was “atrociously poor”.
This case just goes to show the importance of thoroughly investigating allegations raised within a business and ensuring that those handling such matters have the right experience to be able to do so. They need to be able to review matters independently and approach the situation with an open mind.
We provide support and guidance with investigating and addressing workplace grievances, as well as training for managers in how to manage complex grievances. Please do get in touch for further details.