A female soldier who claims sexism in the Army is "rife" and sued the Ministry of Defence for sexual harassment won a paltry £6,983 in damages at the High Court last week. All the more galling: pre-trial, she rejected a settlement offer for £60,000 damages and £125,000 costs.
Claimant Donna Rayment, 42, of Canvey Island, Essex, did not appear too upset about the level of compensation, however: "I didn't do it for money, I did it for justice."
True to her word, she says she will donate all of the money to charity!
The court must now decide who is liable for legal costs. These will dwarf the damages award.
The Ministry of Defence argues each side should pay its own legal bill, since out of 21 allegations of negligence and 42 of harassment, Ms. Rayment succeeded on only four matters. It also said she "exaggerated" her claim.
Counsel for Ms. Rayment denied this, emphasising the court upheld Ms. Rayment's complaint of sexual harassment; she faced "serious and very nasty allegations in court" that turned out to be "completely unjustified"; and the Ministry of Defence case had been "very aggressive".
Justice Nicola Davies did not learn of the settlement offer until after she ruled on damages, but this may now affect her decision on costs, particularly if she finds Ms. Rayment unreasonably rejected the the Ministry of Defence efforts to settle the case.
Allegation of harassment
Ms. Rayment served in the Honourable Artillery Company. She claimed she developed adjustment disorder and depression because of treatment meted out to her by male colleagues.
Justice Davies agreed that the behaviour of co-workers was "oppressive and unacceptable" - for example, covering the walls of a room where Ms. Raymont worked with "offensive" photos of naked women - and also chided commanding officer Major Paul McCaffrey for trying to use an "innocent administrative error" to get rid of her.
The judged added that the actions of Major McCaffrey, along with a written warning and her final discharge from the regiment in June 2005, were all "unwarranted, unfair and wrong".
** Additional Information & Advice **
Alternatively, you may prefer to speak with an employment law solicitor. You can find a 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 even ready to hire a solicitor.