Twenty-one year old secretary Sarah Crosbie was ordered to scrub the male toilets of the male dominated plumbing company where she was employed, and branded "a bitch and a whore and a silly cow" when she stood her ground and refused to do so. Across the country in an altogether slicker working environment, fifty-two old city banker Anna Atkins was also forced to operate in a hostile and male dominated environment. She was excluded from off-site meetings with clients, which often ended up in strip clubs or lap dancing clubs and were "typified by late-night drinking and cigar smoking".
The experiences of Crosbie and Atkins demonstrate that sex discrimination continues to exist in the crudest and most blatant forms, and crosses the age and class divide.
Crosbie was constantly threatened with the sack from the Torquay based plumbing company and subjected to verbal abuse on a daily basis from her co-workers and her male boss, Sam May. Crosbie also complained that when she started a relationship with one of her co-workers he was warned off her and told, "I might cry rape if he gave me a lift". The twenty-one year old stuck at the job for two years before resigning in response to her being selected as the only employee who was vulnerable to redundancy. She commenced employment tribunal proceedings against the Devon based plumbing company and was awarded £9,000 in damages for sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.
Across the country, Atkins who earned £160,000 a year, told a tribunal that she was repeatedly passed over for promotion because of a macho culture where late-night drinking was actively encouraged. The mother of two from Essex also claims that she was victimised by Standard Chartered and senior executives within the bank after she made various allegations of sex discrimination. Atkins told the tribunal that, "I was told that I was not aggressive enough. I was told that I had to be more aggressive", and complained that she found herself increasingly isolated whenever there were extra tasks or projects. Atkins's allegations have been denied by the bank. The hearing continues.
See XpertHR's employment law manual for guidance on the law relating to sex discrimination and guidance on the consequences of discrimination - remedies and penalties. [subscription required].