BAE systems fights £360,000 sex discrimination payout for 'single sexist remark'

Marion Konczak, now 62, was dismissed by BAE in 2007 - she had complained to her manager that colleagues had bullied and harassed her, including sexually, causing her depression

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The Independent Online

The UK’s biggest arms manufacturer is fighting a court order to pay more £360,000 to a former employee for sexual harassment she suffered at work, a court has heard.

BAE Systems claimed the award was “excessive” and an “affront to justice” because the dispute was over a single sexist remark - that “women take things more emotionally than men whilst men tend to forget things and move on,” the Evening Standard reported.

Marion Konczak, now 62, was dismissed by BAE in 2007. She had previously complained to her manager at BAE Systems that four colleagues bullied and harassed her, including sexually. Ms Konczak has not been able to work for 11 years due to depression.

Ms Konczak was awarded £360,178.60 compensation by the Employment Appeals Tribunal in October 2014, after it ruled that the comment had “pushed her over the edge” and the behaviour of BAE and its employees had been the cause of the damage she had suffered.

Speaking in the Court of Appeal on Monday, Paul Gilroy QC, representing BAE, argued the payout was set far too high for a “single complaint of sex discrimination”. 

“The excessive level of compensation awarded is an affront to justice,” he said, pointing out the panel had rejected or made no finding on 15 other complaints Ms Konczak made.

“The psychiatric illness suffered was not capable of being divided between the sex discrimination found to have occurred on that day and the 15 other incidents pre-dating the comment,” Mr Gilroy said.

Ms Konczak’s lawyer, Tristan Jones said: “The harm here is truly indivisible... you can’t divide up all the causes of pushing somebody over the edge.” 

“The comment was the final straw, and was also an act of sex discrimination.”

Mrs Konczak had stated that, after she heard the manager's comment, “all the hurt and injustice suffered over the previous 16 months came flooding back and I started to cry.”