My story: Beena

I was working as a waitress in a restaurant, along with a team of three other waitresses. We were all in our 20s and 30s. I liked the team and we got on well together. But there was one big problem at work. The restaurant owner, John*, was always making suggestive inappropriate comments to us. He insisted we wear short skirts as our uniform and asked us about our sex lives.

Claim for sex discrimination

I didn’t like John’s behaviour but I was really worried about keeping my job. For a while I put up with it. One of the others did have a word with the restaurant manager, but he didn’t do anything. The assistant manager sometimes intervened when John was harassing us. Mostly we tried to deal with John’s offensive comments by changing the subject or asking him about his own love life to divert his attention. When the assistant manager left things got even worse and in the end all four of us resigned. We brought an employment tribunal claim.

The final outcome

John tried to defend himself by saying that we had joined in with the sexual banter and asked him questions about his love life, which he said showed we didn’t mind having sexual discussions. We said that putting up with harassment did not make it welcome, and that we had only said these things to try and divert his attention. The judge agreed with us and decided that John had discriminated, harassed us and unfairly constructively dismissed us. We were very pleased with the decision.

*Names have been changed