Lewd an­tics of JP who dropped his trousers... and won £15k pay­out

Daily Mail - - Life - By Tom Witherow

‘He said he would not do it again’

A FAC­TORY worker has won £15,000 after be­ing un­fairly dis­missed for drop­ping his trousers and sim­u­lat­ing sex with a ta­ble in front of a younger woman col­league.

Robert Cuth­bert­son, 63, car­ried out his lewd an­tics as a joke but was sacked after bosses said ‘vul­ner­a­ble’ young staff were work­ing in the area.

The ‘mo­ment of mad­ness’ hap­pened after a sex toy was de­liv­ered to a col­league at the engi­neer­ing fac­tory where Mr Cuth­bert­son, also a mag­is­trate, worked train­ing ap­pren­tices.

After laugh­ing about the de­liv­ery, Mr Cuth­bert­son went to an of­fice with a 26-year- old woman em­ployee, dropped his trousers and jerked his body back and forth on the ta­ble.

The woman’s boss re­ported him for gross mis­con­duct. But an­other man­ager told Mr Cuth­bert­son that if he had been his boss, he would sim­ply have told him ‘not to be a daft b****r’.

Mr Cuth­bert­son had worked for the Siemens firm for 40 years when the in­ci­dent hap­pened at the New­cas­tle fac­tory last Oc­to­ber. The de­liv­ery is said to have caused a ‘good deal of dis­cus­sion and hu­mour in the work­place’ and as the team joked, he had pulled his trousers down to rau­cous laugh- ter. But after ev­ery­one had dis­persed he went into a side room, dropped his trousers to his an­kles and called to his col­league, known only as Emily. She said he ‘humped the ta­ble’ and he later ad­mit­ted ‘sim­u­lat­ing a sex­ual act’. The com- pany car­ried out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore bring­ing Mr Cuth­bert­son, of Ch­ester-le-Street, County Durham, be­fore a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing at which he was sacked. His ap­peal was re­jected by the com­pany. But at an em­ploy­ment tri­bunal in North Shields, Judge Tu­dor Garnon ruled that he had been un­fairly dis­missed.

‘The claimant has been a jus­tice of the peace for 17 years and is a “safe­guarder” at work, so is very con­scious of the risk to young ap­pren­tices of im­proper be­hav­iour in the work­place,’ he said.

‘When the vic­tim Emily’s line man­ager was asked about the in­ci­dent he said it rep­re­sented gross mis­con­duct on a par with sus­tained racial abuse or phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

‘At the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing and the ap­peal, the claimant apol­o­gised and said he would not do it again. But he was dis­missed, de­spite one wit- ness say­ing it was per­haps a mo­ment of mad­ness.’

At the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing Mr Cuth­bert­son was ac­cused be­ing a ‘per­vert’ or some­one who would know­ingly ex­pose ap­pren­tices to ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour likely to cor­rupt their morals’, but these ac­cu­sa­tions were dropped at ap­peal. He de­scribed his own be­hav­iour as silly and child­ish but never dreamed it would re­sult in him be­ing sacked.

The em­ploy­ment tri­bunal con­cluded that Mr Cuth­bert­son of­ten ‘en­gaged in rib­ald con­ver­sa­tion’ at the fac­tory, where there was ‘a good deal of strong lan­guage with sex­ual con­no­ta­tions’ along with pho­to­graphs of naked women is­played in some work bays. Judge Garnon added: ‘I find the de­ci­sion to dis­miss is one which no rea­son­able em­ployer could have taken and was well out­side the band of rea­son­able re­sponses.

‘It is rare for me to de­cide a case on that ba­sis, but this is one of those rare cases. The claims of un­fair and wrong­ful dis­missal are well founded.’

He awarded Mr Cuth­bert­son com­pen­sa­tion of £14,870.

Siemens said: ‘We do not re­gret our de­ci­sion to dis­miss Mr Cuth­bert­son. His be­hav­iour was to­tally un­ac­cept­able and against our core val­ues to pro­tect our em­ploy­ees from dis­re­spect­ful be­hav­iour.’

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