Female painter wins case after boss asks her to wear stockings while up ladder

A female painter and decorator has won a sexual harassment case after her boss asked her to wear stockings and suspenders next time she climbed up a ladder.

Lisa Thomas was subjected to a litany of lascivious comments from 'tyrannical' colleagues at her male-dominated workplace, including one who told her 'you look sexy in shorts.'

But when Kevin Graham was challenged about the remark he defended himself by stating that former Page 3 model Linda Lusardi was attractive when dressed similarly.

And the manager who made the stockings comment – who asked to be stood at the bottom of the ladder – described it as just 'banter'.

Now, Miss Thomas is in line for compensation after successfully suing her employers for sexual harassment.

An employment tribunal was told she has been a painter and decorator for 20 years.

She began working for Jelson, a residential building company based in Leicester, in 2016 after her brother who also works for the company recommended them.

The East Midlands tribunal heard Miss Thomas was paid up to £750 to paint two and three-bedroom houses, and was often 'the only female on site'.

In early 2017 the hearing was told she suffered a fall at the company's Broughton Astley site in the Harborough district of Leicestershire one Friday, injuring the bone at the bottom of her back.

After resting over the weekend she returned to work on Monday but was 'impeded' by her injury.

She explained her aforementioned injury to her boss – who she described as a 'tyrant' and a 'bully' – who 'without warning' touched her coccyx and 'in doing so touched her bottom'.

The tribunal heard this caused Miss Thomas both 'shock and pain', added to the embarrassment of her boss inviting another worker to 'feel her coccyx'.

In December of 2017, Miss Thomas was told to 'stop being a whiney (sic) b**ch' by MF after she asked about her pay.

During another argument over pay, the boss told her if she wanted to be paid for doing extra work, she should 'try escorting'.

He later messaged her asking her to 'wear stockings and suspenders' next time she was up a ladder, and to call him to 'foot the ladder', implying that he would stand at the bottom and could look at her underwear.

Miss Thomas appealed the decision, but still failed to provide supporting evidence. In February 2019 she resigned and launched her claims in an employment tribunal.

Employment Judge Elizabeth Heap said the instances of 'unwanted' sexual conduct 'violated' Miss Thomas' dignity.

She said: "We accept… MF's text messages asking her to wear a certain type of sexualised underwear… was intended for a sexual purpose on MF's part.

"We accept that Kevin Graham exposed his penis to Miss Thomas.

"By its very nature, exposure of genitalia is plainly conduct of a sexual nature. It was also unwanted conduct which reasonably violated [Miss Thomas'] dignity.

"We have accepted that Mr Graham told Miss Thomas she looked 'sexy' in shorts, before reaching forward out and pulling out her false eyelashes, grabbing hold of her, stroking her arm and grabbing hold of her genitals.

"Miss Thomas had no interest in Mr Graham in a sexual sense, nor was there any 'long standing friendship'."

Miss Thomas' other claims of constructive dismissal, wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, victimisation, and direct discrimination all failed and were dismissed.

A remedy hearing to decide upon compensation will be held in due course.

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