The Daily Telegraph

Being called ‘love’ is not the same as ‘mate’, tribunal rules

- By Daily Telegraph Reporter

CALLING female work colleagues “love” or “honey” is demeaning and is not the same as calling male co-workers “mate”, a tribunal has ruled.

Mike Hartley, a funeral home manager, was sacked after being accused of making inappropri­ate remarks to young women at work, including calling female colleagues “sweet”, “love”, “chick” and “honey”. After he lost his job, Mr Hartley tried to argue that he was the victim of sex discrimina­tion because he also gave men pet names such as “mate” or “pal”.

A tribunal in Manchester found it was inappropri­ate to compare the two, as the way he addressed men did not undermine them in the way his names for women did. “Calling someone ‘mate’ or ‘lad’ is not a ‘pet’ name, in our opinion, it is a nickname,” Pauline Feeney, an employment judge, said. “They are not demeaning ... however, chick, babes, bobs, honey, hun and sweetie are demeaning and infantilis­ing ways of referring to women.”

The hearing was told Mr Hartley was client liaison and HR manager for D Hollowell & Sons, a Blackpool-based family funeral firm. In 2019, his colleague Rachel Anderton complained about his “insulting” and “very inappropri­ate” comments. The panel heard Mr Hartley asked her what her “vital statistics” were when enquiring about uniform size and called her pet names such as “honey”, “babe” and “chick”.

After Miss Anderton accused him of sexual harassment, Mr Hartley was suspended. During an investigat­ory meeting, he apologised and said he was only

‘Chick, babes, bobs, honey, and sweetie are demeaning and infantilis­ing ways of referring to women’

trying to be “warm” and “welcoming”.

Interviews with colleagues revealed allegation­s of inappropri­ate behaviour, including choosing interview candidates based on whether they were “hot” or “fit”, the panel heard.

After he was sacked he brought claims of sex discrimina­tion and unfair dismissal. The panel found he had been unfairly dismissed as the investigat­ion was not carried out properly. However, it found the company was right to sack him anyway, and refused to award compensati­on. It rejected his claim he was the victim of sexual discrimina­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom