Woman awarded £400,000 in sex discrimination claim

A secretary has been awarded nearly £400,000 in compensation by an Employment Tribunal after claiming sexual discrimination against her former employer.

Deanne Kingson brought a claim for sex and religion or belief discrimination against the Qatari Government after working at the country’s embassy in London.

The Employment Tribunal heard how the woman had been made subject to “repeated discrimination and harassment” during her tenure at the embassy.

This included a senior ambassador making “persistent sexual advances” against her and threats when he was refused.

The ambassador also invited Ms Kingson to chew on ‘Qat’, a stimulant used by him and his friends, and made discriminatory remarks about her religion, refusing her Ramadan greeting on the grounds that she “did not believe in God”.

The court also heard how the secretary was suspended after failing to pick up a visitor from the airport, despite being given the wrong information. Ms Kingson was then threatened with dismissal.

The secretary was formally dismissed in June 2014 “without reason” before bringing the discrimination claim in September the same year.

Speaking to the court, Ms Kingson said she was diagnosed with clinical depression and felt suicidal as a result of working at the embassy.

Upholding her claims, Judge Jill Brown agreed that Ms Kingson had been “subjected to humiliating treatment which violated her dignity and made her feel outraged and degraded”.

“The treatment of her was disrespectful of her sex and the difference in her religion and belief. I decided that the treatment was appropriately described as high-handed, malicious, insulting or oppressive. I considered also that the motive was relevant in this case; the treatment of the claimant was spiteful and vindictive.”

The former secretary was awarded a total of £388,920.15 in compensation for sex and religious or belief discrimination, loss of earnings, psychiatric injury, injury to feelings and unpaid holiday pay.