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Sexual Harassment Claims against Pertemps Boss Unfounded

Sexual Harassment Claims against Pertemps Boss Unfounded

Claims of sex discrimination and victimisation against a company within the Pertemps Group, and claims of sexual harassment against Pertemps Chairman Tim Watts have all been ruled as totally unfounded at an Employment Tribunal in Birmingham.

The Claimant, Debbie Smith, had been employed as the Managing Director of a company within the Pertemps Group. She was dismissed in 2009 after the franchising business made a loss of 250,000.

In response, Ms Smith made a large number of personal and outrageous allegations of sexual harassment against Pertemps Chairman Tim Watts, whom she had met on only a handful of occasions.

The Employment Tribunal saw through Ms Smith's intentions and she failed to establish that any of the allegations against Mr Watts constituted sexual harassment. The Tribunal concluded that her allegations had been made in bad faith stating that her grievance had been put forward as a bargaining chip to seek a negotiated settlement. For this purpose, she had re-written the history of her relationship with Mr Watts. In summary, the Tribunal decided that Debbie Smith had been "out to get" Mr Watts.

On the contrary, the Tribunal described Mr Watts as someone who wants others to succeed and is helpful in mentoring others to succeed. The Tribunal remarked on his trait of enabling people to achieve their goals and commented that there was a clear picture of Pertemps as not having a regime or culture of sex discrimination and/or sexual harassment.

Mr Watts is a well known and successful businessman with a high profile not only for his business successes but also for his many charitable activities. The case has attracted a great deal of media coverage because of Mr Watts' high profile and because of the salacious nature of the allegations against him. Speaking after receiving the judgment, Mr Watts said: "I am delighted by the judgment and the fact that the truth has now come out. Debbie Smith no doubt thought that I was an easy target. Myself and my organisation have had to endure months of adverse publicity in order to uphold our reputation as a family company with real family values.

As for Ms Smith, Mr Watts said that she had been motivated purely by greed and a desire to extort money from him and his organisation, a practice which Mr Watts feels is becoming all too common these days. He commented that Ms Smith had portrayed herself as whiter than white, and as a prude who was easily offended. Yet in her previous employment, she had begun an extramarital affair with a colleague which resulted in her leaving that employment on poor terms. Mr Watts added that he was pleased to note that Debbie Smith's hypocrisy was not lost on the Employment Tribunal.

Mr Watts added: "The system has to change. I was humbled by how many of my colleagues volunteered to come to the Tribunal and tell the truth about Pertemps but the cost in legal fees and time would be way beyond the means of many people and many organisations. I would like to see vexatious spongers like Debbie Smith brought to book and I will be instructing my lawyers to take action against her.


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