Broker 'hauled out of office'

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A FEMALE broker was hauled out of her office 'like an animal' when she was dismissed after she reported that her boss had made a pass at her, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Samantha Phillips, 28, an aviation insurance broker, said her working life became increasingly difficult after she complained about the advance by Giles Wilkinson, 35, on a business trip to Denmark in 1992.

Ten months later she was sacked from her pounds 17,000-a-year job. She is claiming unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against Willis Corroon, international insurance brokers.

Miss Phillips, from Battersea, south London, told an industrial tribunal that Mr Wilkinson lurched on to her and touched her breast during a late-night drink in a hotel.

After the trip, she found it difficult to put up with Mr Wilkinson's suggestive comments about her appearance and clothing.

Finally she complained to her administrative superior, Jerry Flaxman. 'I told him (Mr Wilkinson) had made a move on me and that he kept making comments and that I couldn't stand it,' she said. But then it emerged that Mr Flaxman had apparently encouraged the incident by sending Mr Wilkinson red roses before the trip to Denmark, in the hope that he would 'strike it lucky'.

Eight months later she was accused of lying to an underwriter in the LA Hudson Syndicate about whether her broking firm had been given quotes by a competitor. She denied doing so, but was suspended by Mr Wilkinson and then dismissed. 'I was hauled out like an animal,' she said. 'I didn't understand why.'

Mr Wilkinson, of Danehill, East Sussex, said he had not carried out the sexual advance, received any roses, or made disparaging comments about Miss Phillips.

'I remarked on Samantha's appearance no more and no less than anybody else's appearance, male or female,' he said. Nothing improper had taken place on the Denmark trip; they had done no more than dance closely.

He added that Miss Phillips did not get on well with her peers in the office, who felt she was given special treatment, and that she 'spent a lot of time cultivating her bosses'.

The hearing was adjourned until today.