An ill wind for Selectabase

Breaking wind at girls might be hilarious for 12-year-old boys - but it's hardly best practice at work...

Last Updated: 22 Sep 2016

Please note: This article was published in 2008. Selectabase is now under new management.

Theresa Bailey, a salesperson at direct marketing firm Selectabase in Deal, has just been awarded £5,146 in compensation after a tribunal agreed that she had been sexually harassed by her male colleagues. Bailey said she was ‘embarrassed and humiliated’ by the sexist jokes and behaviour of her co-workers, who don’t really seem to have grasped the niceties of the 21st century office. Apparently her line manager’s favourite trick was to lift his right buttock and ‘fart in her general direction’ (to paraphrase Monty Python’s Holy Grail). They don’t teach you that at business school…

Not surprisingly, this attitude seems to have permeated most of the office, and Bailey (the only woman on the team of telesales execs) quickly became the butt of their banter (so to speak). She was also pelted with a beach ball whenever she complained about their lewd comments, and ordered to wear a badge saying ‘I’m Simple’ whenever she had problems with her computer. The company even refused to pay her when she was legitimately off sick.

Quite rightly, the tribunal decided that she wouldn’t have had to put up with this kind of nonsense if she was male, and now the marketing firm has to stump up some compensation – although it doesn’t sound very penitent about the whole thing. In fact, it still appears to be protesting its innocence – according to the Daily Mail, its spokesman said afterwards that the company had ‘12 years of excellent employee relations’ and denied that ‘any of its employees had acted in an inappropriate, unfair or discriminatory way’. Erm, was he not listening to the hearing?

We suppose we should at least be grateful that episodes like this are now relatively rare; these days this kind of story is considered fairly shocking, whereas there was a time when it would have been par for the course. But it’s still a bit depressing to see, particularly since there are presumably lots of similar incidents in offices up and down the country every day that never make it as far as a tribunal.

Still, at least Bailey is now out of this awful-sounding place (she quit in disgust within three months) and has won the day in court. But will this episode do any damage to Selectabase’s corporate reputation? In the interests of stamping out this kind of thing once and for all, we wouldn’t lose too much sleep if it did...

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