Tribunal rejects male cleaner's sex harassment claim: Worker tells of female manager's advances

A MALE cleaner who claimed to have been gradually deprived of his livelihood after rejecting the sexual advances of a female senior manager 'old enough to be his mother' was not dismissed for sexual reasons, a London industrial tribunal concluded yesterday.

Lee Nugent, 24, of Heston, west London, said Joy Evans, an operations manager for Initial Cleaning Services, one of the country's largest contract cleaners, squeezed his thigh and made suggestive remarks in an ICS van when they went to inspect some public lavatories he cleaned for Spelthorne Borough Council in August 1992.

He told the north London tribunal that Mrs Evans, a middle-aged divorcee, of Brentford, west London, started 'telling me how lonely she was and that she used to have a young lover. She used to wake up in the night scared and had bought herself a white polar bear for something to hold but you cannot beat the real thing'.

Later, as they were about to get out of the van to inspect another public convenience, Mr Nugent said Mrs Evans put her hand on top of his thigh and asked him if he found her attractive. 'I laughed out loud with embarrassment. I said 'You are old enough to be my mother. You should not say this'.'

After visiting a third public lavatory Mr Nugent said that Mrs Evans asked him about his hobbies and said she liked to go swimming but had no one to go with. 'It felt to me as though she was waiting for me to offer to take her swimming and start some kind of thing up.'

He was surprised, but did not reply, nor make an immediate complaint to the company because he was too embarrassed, the tribunal was told.

Mrs Evans denied touching Mr Nugent's thigh, or making suggestive remarks to him. She said he was 'quite a good cleaner' but the number of hours he was working daily meant he could not do his jobs properly.

Mr Nugent earned pounds 273 per week gross, starting work at 6am. He spent most of his 17-hour day cleaning the lavatories and then working at night as a cleaner on four office cleaning contracts.

A week later Mrs Evans took one of his contracts away, saying that he had too many evening jobs and the quality of his work was suffering. A couple of weeks after this, he said, she took another contract away from him claiming that his cleaning work was 'rotten'. He was offered another cleaning job, but it did not pay well enough, Mr Nugent told the tribunal.

Subsequently, another contract ended because the company moved buildings and Mr Nugent said the fourth contract was taken away from him by an area manager who said the quality of his cleaning was not good enough.

Mr Nugent said yesterday that in removing his contracts he thought Mrs Evans was exercising a 'personal grudge' against him. He said there had been no complaints from clients about the quality of his work despite his long working hours.

Lynn Thomas, for ICS, said Mr Nugent had 'completely fabricated' his account to extract compensation from the company.

Quinton Barry, the tribunal's chairman, said that although a conversation which Mr Nugent was entitled to regard as suggestive did take place, it was an isolated incident and would not, without further incidents, be enough to establish that sexual discrimination had taken place.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy, friendly and creative marketing ag...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project