TV presenter wins sexual harassment claim in Employment Tribunal

by Redmans on January 10, 2014

  • SumoMe

A TV presenter has won her claim for sexual harassment after a camera crew were recorded insulting her whilst she was live on air.

Ms Charlie Vernon, 28, who was presenting the show “Jewelry Maker” on Gems TV at the time of the incident on X. On the day in question, Ms Vernon was presenting the TV show live when a number of her camera crew colleagues started making remarks that she could hear through her ear-piece. She was called a “f***ing whore” and a “bitch” and, although she laughed these comments off at first, she became more and more offended. Finally, she reacted by swearing at the offending cameramen live on air, although she apparently thought that the gesture was not able to be seen by viewers. However, viewers did witness the gesture and one complained, resulting in Ms Vernon’s dismissal for potentially bringing the channel into disrepute.

Ms Vernon, who now works on Channel 5’s “Live with Gabby”, subsequently brought an Employment Tribunal claim against Genuine Gemstone Company, claiming that she had been unfairly dismissed, sexually harassed and victimised. Lawyers for the company insisted that she had only been freelance and had not been employed by the firm but Ms Vernon claimed that she had been employed, using as evidence the fact that she had been sent to India by the firm to handle gems as part of her training.

The matter came to an Employment Tribunal hearing earlier this month at the Birmingham Employment Tribunal. Employment Judge Victoria Dean, who chaired the Employment Tribunal, was shown a 10-minute extract of the programme, which deals with antique copper and bronze items. This extract showed that Ms Vernon could be seen to laugh nervously, before she react angrily and flicked her middle finger at a person off-camera.

The Employment Tribunal panel found that Ms Vernon had been verbally abused through her ear-piece and that she had been an employee of the company. Further, it found that she had been sexually harassed by the comments over the ear-piece and awarded her £3,250 in compensation for the injury to her feelings. However, her claims for unfair dismissal and victimisation were dismissed, with the Tribunal finding that dismissal in the circumstances was within the “reasonable range of responses”, given her conduct, and that the victimization claim failed as the matter had been a “one-off”.

Ms Vernon declined to comment after the hearing but The Genuine Gemstone Company stated: “This incident occurred between the two individuals and both were dismissed for their behaviour.”

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to implement equality policies and train their staff in matters relating to discrimination and harassment, or they face potentially expensive Employment Tribunal claims which may also result in bad publicity.”

Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors

Please note that Redmans Solicitors were not associated with this case in any way and represented neither of the parties

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