IT worker sues boss over mistaken ‘jumbo genital’ acronym

Judge ruled project manager Karina Gasparova had ‘skewed perception’

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Thursday 18 May 2023 17:33 BST
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<p>Aleksander Goulandris</p>

Aleksander Goulandris

An IT worker sued her “rich and powerful” boss for sexual harassment after mistaking “xx” in his email as code for wanting kisses and his initials for ‘A Jumbo Genital’.

Project manager Karina Gasparova also interpreted Aleksander Goulandris’s use of “yy” as sexual contact, and question marks as when she would be “ready to engage in sexual acts”.

An employment tribunal at London Central Court also heard that Ms Gasparova thought her superior’s renaming a file with his initials ‘AJG’ was actually an acronym for ‘A Jumbo Genital’.

A judge threw out her case, ruling that she had a “skewed perception of everyday events” of her time at her paperless document firm, essDOCS where she had been working since November 2019.

The panel also heard Ms Gasparova told bosses that she thought Mr Goulandris wanted to have a sexual relationship with her, but was treating her badly because she had “rejected his advances”.

She claimed this included shouting at her, undermining her in meetings with clients and removing key elements of work from her.

The court was also told of an incident in November 2019, where Ms Gasparova claimed that Mr Goulandris touched her leg with his leg under the table and “stared at her”, leaving her feeling “anxious and uncomfortable”.

The tribunal ruled the incident did occur, but it had been accidental and was “innocuous” in nature.

In a string of other claims, which were dismissed by the panel, Ms Gasparova said Mr Goulandris touched her hand when motioning for her computer mouse and missing it.

It was heard when she invited him to a lunch in September 2020, “to get some peace” from him sending “lots of messages” - he declined her offer.

Ms Gasparova told the tribunal this was because “lunch involved romance and he only wanted sex”.

The same month, when Mr Gasparova asked her when a project would be finished, she told the tribunal he burst out shouting with an “extremely angry voice”, saying “I need date, date, date”.

Ms Gasparova interpreted this as having been asked “the exact date when I would finally agree on sexual contact with him”.

In October she complained about receiving an invitation to the same meeting 16 times from Mr Goulandris - but the tribunal found this was not deliberate or sexual in nature.

In April 2021, she submitted a detailed grievance, which saw all her sexual harassment allegations dismissed.

She appealed the decision in May 2021 but it was again rejected, so she resigned.

Employment Judge Emma Burns said: “Our primary reasons for rejecting her account of events were that we considered her perception of everyday events was skewed.

“She demonstrated a tendency to make extraordinary allegations without evidence and she contradicted herself in a way that could not be attributable to a fallible memory.

“Ms Gasparova interpreted entirely innocent work-related conduct, some of it accidental, by Mr Goulandris as having a sinister intent.”

The panel threw out her claims of direct sex harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal were dismissed.

Ms Gasparova was also ordered to pay £5,000 to essDOCS in costs following her failure to comply in time with parts of the tribunal procedures.

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