Charity discriminated against tutor over student's 'sensitive issue'

A tutor has won her claim of sex discrimination after she was asked to address a sensitive matter with a student because of her gender. 

A 94-year-old male student had personal hygiene issues and managers believed the matter was best dealt with by a female. 

The case involved French language tutor Ms Jones who worked for west London charity Open Age from 2007. 

She was employed part-time to teach French to the charity’s students. 

The issue arose in spring 2018 when an elderly male student had an issue with his personal hygiene and incontinence. 

Jones was asked by more than one manager to raise a complaint with him. 

She did so but felt “very embarrassed” and felt it was inappropriate to ask a woman to address the issue with a man.  

No formal grievance was raised at the time, but Jones bought claims of sex discrimination after Open Age chose to end its engagement with her. 

The case was heard by the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in favour of Jones. 

It found that the management within the organisation believed sensitive matters such as the one in question were better dealt with by a woman. 

Jones was asked to broach the subject with the elderly student despite there being ample opportunities for male members of the management team to do so. 

She was awarded £4,000 plus £1,000 interest for “personal injury to feelings” relating to the claim about personal hygiene. A separate claim of harassment would have succeeded but was submitted out of time. 

Open Age said it “fully accepts” the findings of the tribunal and has “reviewed its ways of working in light of it”. 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law. 

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