A judge who ruled on a lawsuit from a former Barclays banker against the firm, has stated that calling women “birds” is “plainly sexist”.
The former bank employee Anca Lacatus who is now set to receive compensation over her treatment, said his boss continously used the term despite her repeated requests for him to stop.
Anca said the continouse use of the word made her feel uncomfortable during her first job in banking after graduating from university.
Defending himself before the employment tribunal, her boss James Kinghorn said he assumed she saw it as light-hearted banter.
The former Barclays banker who said that she first responded to the manager for using the phrase after hearing him first refer to a female employee as a “bird” in February 2018, said he went on to continue to say it repeatedly and reportedly told her she should not mention it to HR.
Mr Kinghorn said he thought she would view the language as banter and that he was joking about not reporting his use of the term to HR. The tribunal heard he had since accepted his language had been inappropriate.
Ruling on the case, Judge John Crosfill said;
“The use of the phrase ‘bird’ was a misplaced use of irony which inadvertently caused offence.
‘We accept that when this was pointed out to [Mr Kinghorn], he ultimately got the message and stopped trying to be funny.
‘We consider that it was very foolish to assume that anybody else would find this language amusing. The language is plainly sexist (whether misplaced irony or not).”
Accepting that Mr Kinghorn did not set out to deliberately offend the junior staff-member and that it took some time for the junior employee to be sufficiently blunt enough for him to get the message, the tribunal also held that Anca would have been reluctant to complain about her boss’ language out of fear of it being damaging to her budding career as a £46,000-a-year graduate analyst.
Barclays was also found guilty of failing to change her working hours to accommodate her painful endometriosis condition, as well as anxiety. It was learnt that Anca was often left exhausted as she was expected to stay long past 7pm and worked between 40-48 hours a week on average while her illness progressed. The situation reportedly made her job harder.
Anca signed off from work in January 2019 and was later made redundant by the bank. A hearing to decide compensation will take place at a later date.