Rachel Kelly, 38, of Isleworth, Middlesex, sued former employer IDPP Consulting and her line manager, Danny Whelan, for sexual harassment, victimisation, and constructive dismissal, and claimed £175,000 compensation.
Ms. Kelly claimed she shared a private lap-dance with Mr. Whelan "under great duress." The tribunal was unsympathetic, however, and ruled there was no management bullying and Ms. Kelly was a "willing participant." "She was not compelled to go to the club and could have refused to attend," it said.
Witnesses described how Ms. Kelly tried to perform a drunken pole dance at the club. They also alleged she laughed throughout the lap-dance with Mr. Whelan and "held court" at work the next day to describe her drunken antics.
One witness recalled how she "proclaimed to anyone who would listen all of the details and she had thought it very amusing."
In announcing its verdict, the tribunal said:
"We have come to the conclusion that this was an occasion fuelled by excessive alcohol. Ms. Kelly decided to attend the lap-dancing club with full knowledge of the nature of the establishment.
"We consider that Ms. Kelly's demeanour and conduct at work on the morning after the visit to the club sheds an illuminating light on her likely attitude to the events the night before ... and we accept IDPP's witnesses' evidence of Ms. Kelly's demeanour."
Ms. Kelly joined IDPP in January 2007. She alleged she had no choice but to resign in October last year after meeting with the company's chairman John Holmes who warned her she "could be dumped."
In reaching its decision, the tribunal chose to accept Mr. Holmes's version of events, however, that he had reassured Ms. Kelly she was a "valued employee" and tried to persuade her to stay.
How to prove constructive dismissal
To prove constructive dismissal, you must show that your employer committed a serious breach of contract, you did not accept the breach, and you resigned because of the breach. Examples of serious breaches of contract in this context include the following:
- Unilaterally cutting your pay;
- Arbitrarily demoting you to a lesser role;
- Changing your job duties, working hours or place of work without your
- Making it impossible for you to do your job effectively;
- Failing to give you reasonable support to carry out your job without
disruption, harassment or bullying from co-workers; &
- Forcing you to work in conditions where health and safety regulations are not observed.
Constructive dismissal cases are hard to win, however, so you should always seek advice before quitting your job. Factors such as your employment status, the terms of your employment contract, length of service, and reasons for leaving all require consideration.
** Additional Information & Advice **
Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be better to speak with a solicitor who specialises in employment law. You can be matched with an employment law solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.