PGA boss denies calling co-workers his 'harem'

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The Independent Online
THE PROFESSIONAL Golfers' Association's training director yesterday denied claims that he referred to women in the organisation's senior management as his "harem".

Gerry Paton told an employment tribunal in Birmingham that Judy Owen, who alleges that he exhibited "blatant sexism" during her three weeks with the PGA, was also mistaken in alleging he had branded female golfers "dykes and lesbians".

Under cross-examination by Mrs Owen's counsel, Karon Monaghan, Mr Paton said he was not a sexist and had not discriminated against women.

Mrs Owen, 39, of Meriden, Solihull, West Midlands, claims an order not to wear trousers and alleged "bullying and harassment" at the PGA headquarters at The Belfry, Warwickshire, amounted to sex discrimination.

Mr Paton said he had intended to "build bridges" with Mrs Owen on May 5, 1998, the day he allegedly ordered her home to change into a dress.

The tribunal has heard that Mrs Owen resigned after just three weeks in her pounds 28,000-a-year job as a training manager with the PGA.

The tribunal panel reserved its decision on Mrs Owen's claims until a date to be fixed.

Speaking after the hearing was adjourned, PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: "We are a caring employer and will always comply with legislation and review policies.

''We will continue to actively practise equal opportunities and be at the forefront of introducing and implementing policies which are non-discriminatory."

In her closing speech to the panel, Ms Monaghan claimed the PGA's witnesses had been "less than frank" in giving their evidence to the hearing.

She added: "There is no evidence of a dress code save that women weren't allowed to wear trousers. To the extent that there was a code that code was more restrictive of women's than men's dress."