Sacked broker wins pounds 18,000: City insurance firm accused in tribunal hearing of 'steamroller dismissal' of female employee

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The Independent Online
A CITY broker who claimed she was sacked after spurning her boss's advances was awarded pounds 18,000 yesterday after winning her case for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination.

Samantha Phillips, 28, of Battersea, south London, lost her job as a pounds 17,000-a-year aviation insurance broker with Willis Corroon in November 1992.

During a five-day hearing at Croydon, south London, an industrial tribunal heard Miss Phillips allege that she had been the victim of a conspiracy to get her out of the company following a business trip to Denmark during which she rejected her boss's sexual advances. She told how, after a late-night drink in Copenhagen, Giles Wilkinson, 35, apparently 'lurched' on to her and tried to grope her breasts.

Mr Wilkinson, of Dane Hill, West Sussex, denied the allegations. He claimed that after one slow dance with Miss Phillips he realised he had overstepped the line and the evening finished.

Willis Corroon claimed that Miss Phillips was later sacked for gross misconduct after misleading a Lloyd's underwriter.

David Milton, the tribunal chairman, said: 'I do not find Mr Wilkinson acted in any way improperly and, in particular, by way of a physical gesture that could be considered improper.'

But he upheld that Willis Corroon management would not have sacked Miss Phillips in the 'steamroller' fashion, 'catapulting the applicant out of the door', scarcely before she had time to give her side of the story, and refusing her an appeal, if she had been a man.

However, Mr Milton agreed that at work Miss Phillips had acted 'unwisely, foolishly and irresponsibly', and would be awarded only 75 per cent of damages for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination - pounds 13,500 - but he allowed a further pounds 4,500 for injury to feelings.

(Photograph omitted)