Secretary wins £360,000 after her managers ‘clumsy’ comment

Marion Konczak worked for BAE Systems as a secretary from 1998 until she was dismissed in July 2007.

Initially, she worked in Preston, as part of a liaison team which worked with officers from the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

At the outset relations were good, although following some staffing changes she began to experience some bullying and harassment and reported two instances of sexual harassment.

In 2005, she was deployed to BAE’s commercial team in nearby Warton but Konczak wasn’t happy there, believing she wasn’t given a proper job to do.

In 2006, she applied for a role back at the Preston site.

Her line manager then suggested she should apply for a role within her old team.

Konczak disagreed with this idea, as the role would involve working with some colleagues whom she had raised complaints against in the past.

She felt she wasn’t being listened to, and, feeling some pressure to take the role, broke down in tears during a meeting with her line manager and a colleague.

The manager came to see her afterwards.

In an attempt to express sympathy, he said words to the effect that “women take things more emotionally than men, while men tend to forget things and move on.”

Konczak took offence to this comment and described it as the “final straw”.

She was signed off work with work related stress.

BAE subsequently dismissed Konczak explaining that “it wasn’t appropriate for her to return to her old job in the commercial department and there were no other positions for her”.

Through a series of tribunals and appeals, it was eventually decided that her dismissal had been unfair and Konczak was awarded £360,178.60 in damages.

BAE appealed to have the compensation reduced, arguing the award was “excessive”, but this was recently dismissed by the Court of Appeal.