A qualified barrister who endured ‘torrents of abuse’ from her solicitor employer could see her compensation reduced after a judge upheld an appeal against her £47,000 remedy.
Mahbooba Shirin was awarded £46,908 last year after successfully suing her employer for harassment on the grounds of her age and sex. Shirin, who was working as a paralegal and office assistant at London-based Wilson Barca LLP, contended she was called a ‘stupid c***’ and a ‘stupid cow’ by senior partner, Richard Barca.
She also alleged she was called ‘stupid’, ‘slow’ and ‘clumsy’ by Barca’s secretary, and was told she was too old for the job. The claimant turns 54 this year.
The Employment Tribunal upheld four allegations of harassment on the ground of Shirin’s age, and two allegations of harassment on the ground of her sex. In its judgment, the tribunal found that Barca’s ‘loss of control can sometimes be volcanic’ and ‘he erupts into a torrent of abuse, liberally spiced with very bad language’.
‘There is no question that these remarks had the effect of creating a degrading and hostile environment for [Shirin],’ it said.
The tribunal awarded the claimant £20,000 for injury to her feelings before making adjustments for inflation, and awarded £5,000 aggravated damages in respect of the harassment on the ground of sex. The total sum of £46,908 also included accrued interest.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal said the panel had miscalculated the injury to feelings award and had failed to explain why a further award of £5,000 in aggravated damages was necessary. As a result, it remitted the issues to the same panel of the Employment Tribunal.
Deputy judge of the High Court, Mathew Gullick, added that the tribunal's decision is ‘far from being wholly flawed’ and the remedy judgment ‘has been found wanting in what is, in my judgment, a relatively limited respect’.