Sacked woman 'feared sexist boss'

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A woman supervisor told an industrial tribunal she was sacked after she complained that her boss had told her of his sexual fantasies about a colleague.

Cathy Thomas, of Rustington, West Sussex, claimed production manager Philip Hooper said women were only good for one thing and should "go home and do the ironing".

Miss Thomas, 25, was dismissed last September from polystyrene manufacturers Styropack, in Littlehampton. Bosses at the factory claimed she was too stressed to cope with her job as deputy team leader and tried to cut her pay. She was sacked when she refused to agree to the new conditions of employment.

Miss Thomas told an industrial tribunal in Southampton that Mr Hooper was often sexist, abusive and intimidating.

She said the manager, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, went into graphic detail about an exploratory operation on his bowels. She said: "His attitude was sexist and abusive almost immediately.

"He would insist I make coffee and said things like 'women belong at home' and 'you should stay at home with the bloody ironing'. He would often use his physical presence to intimidate me."

She added: "One of the fantasies he told me about concerned a female colleague. He said he imagined having sex with her over a pool table."

Miss Thomas said she complained to her team leader who spoke to Mr Hooper. In September last year Miss Thomas was signed off sick for two weeks and returned to find she had been demoted. "I was told I was unable to cope with the job because of stress," she said. "When I refused to accept a cut in wages I was dismissed."

Miss Thomas claims breach of contract and sexual discrimination. The firm admits the breach but denies discrimination. Colin Bast, a team leader at Styropack, told the tribunal he had never heard Mr Hooper make any sexist remarks.

The tribunal was adjourned.