The accounts executive wins a case against the former employer after her boss used the remark despite her objections. A judge has issued a warning about s*xist language in the workplace after a British female executive successfully sued a £3 billion company when her boss called her a “good girl”.
Frances Fricker complained when her boss, Giuseppe Ajroldi from international business consultancy firm Gartner, continuously used the term despite her asking him not to.
On several occasions, he replied to her working saying “good girl”.
The tribunal heard he also mocked Ms. Fricker’s weight by saying she looked ‘fat’ in photos and once tried to kiss and touch her on a business trip. They found noting how “language evolves over time” and once “harmless phrases” are now seen as racial, homophobic and s*xist.”
Frances Fricker, 39, is seeking compensation after her supervisor, Giuseppe Ajroldi, repeatedly called her a “nice girl” despite her objections, according to the tribunal.
Mr. Ajroldi’s ‘condescending’ behavior ‘humiliated and degraded’ accounts executive Ms. Fricker, who protested that she was an ‘independent woman.’
She was informed she had flirted back with Mr. Ajroldi when she complained to her supervisors at the worldwide business consulting firm Gartner.
Ms. Fricker, who was compelled to resign, is now in a position to get compensation after suing Gartner for s*xual harassment.
She added ‘I’m an independent woman for goodness sake’, to which Mr. Ajroldi ‘played dumb’ and replied ‘good girl is not appropriate*?’.
After telling him the phrase was ‘just a little condescending’ he hit back saying ‘sorry, I didn’t want to offend an independent woman’.
After he promised not to call her the name again she answered his original question, and Mr. Ajroldi replied: ‘Ok, thanks, good girl.’
The next morning, he apologized, and Ms. Fricker told him that his behavior ‘needed to stop.’
Mr. Ajroldi indicated it would be ‘funny’ if he arranged a date with her ‘disguised as someone else’ on a dating app she used the following month, and she felt ‘shocked, disgusted, and intimidated.’
She then filed a complaint against Mr. Ajroldi, but was told that his actions were ‘reciprocal’ and that she had ‘participated in the behavior.’
Mr. Ajroldi eventually left the firm – but was not fired – but Ms. Fricker continued to be harassed by other male coworkers, including being referred to as an “oxygen thief.”
She then resigned in October 2019, telling bosses: ‘The continued bullying, victimization and less favorable treatment I’ve received as a result of a previous harassment grievance, not creating a safe environment to work in, forcing me to work in a hostile environment and not sporting a reasonable request to move into a different team to allow me to perform well is the final act and one I can no longer tolerate.’
According to Employment Judge Gary Tobin, the extent of such a “discriminatory” culture is “unusual” in his experience, and language that formerly looked “harmless” now has a new meaning.
Judge Tobin said: ‘We are an experienced Tribunal and note that documentary evidence indicating such a discriminatory culture is rare.
‘The harassment started slightly at first with comments, particularly about her appearance and her standing (i.e. good girl) which then escalated into inappropriate advances.
‘Language evolves over time. Words and phrases that might once have seemed harmless are now regarded as racial, homophobic, and s*xist slurs.
‘Some phrases, whilst not regarded as taboo, are generally regarded as inappropriate in the workplace.
‘Referring to a woman in her late-30s with a school-age child as a girl is demeaning.
‘We find Ms. Fricker was s*xually harassed and treated less favorably because of her rejection of the harassment.’
Ms. Fricker’s claims of constructive unfair dismissal also succeeded, though other complaints of gender discrimination and victimization failed.
Compensation will be determined at a later date.
A corporate spokesperson for Gartner said: ‘We are extremely disappointed in the ruling of the UK Employment Tribunal.
‘We do not believe the evidence supports the ruling and we are currently determining potential next steps, including whether we will appeal this decision.
‘At Gartner, we are committed to creating an inclusive culture where every associate feels safe, respected, and empowered to do their best work.’