Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Female broker discussed sex toys, tribunal told

A city broker who claims she was sexually harassed by her boss, discussed sex toys at work and described her car as a "pulling machine", it was alleged today.

Rosemarie Corscadden, 51, alleges she was the victim of a campaign of sexual harassment at the hands of her boss Jerry Lees, who she claims repeatedly propositioned her for sex.

But Lees, head of sales at Cheuvreux, a European equity broker within the Credit Agricole Group, denies all allegations and claimed that Ms Corscadden, had made "flirtatious" comments to him and sent him "joke emails with sexual content".

Ms Corscadden from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, has claimed Mr Lees overlooked her for promotion and bonuses after she refused to sleep with him.

Describing himself as a "well known business personality in the industry", Mr Lees, 54, acknowledged that he engaged in "friendly banter" in the office.

He told a central London employment tribunal: "I wish to make it clear that I readily accept that I and my team engage in friendly banter with one another and that in the past, this has included sending emails with some sexual content.

"However, this was light-hearted humour amongst a group of friendly grown ups and the atmosphere on the desk is generally very civil and professional. It is not a stereotypical City "traders desk". I do not accept that this banter crossed the line in terms of creating a sexually harassing environment, whether for Ros or anyone else in the team."

He added: "Not only has Ros never once complained about this banter, but she herself actively participated in it. Thus, for example, there are instances where she forwarded me joke emails with sexual content.

"There is also an example of her sending an email to a client, in which she talks about using her car as 'An A-grade (pulling machine) in summer, particularly if there are two blondes in it.'

"I would add that I am also aware that Ros has participated in discussions in the workplace about sexual matters including keeping vibrators in the fridge."

Mr Lees told the tribunal that he had previously worked with Ms Corscadden at another firm, had known her since 1996 and that she had been friendly with his ex-wife and current partner.

Ms Corscadden has told the hearing that Mr Lees propositioned her during a business trip to Amsterdam in January 2005. He promised to help with her business if they "had great sex", but Mr Lees said he made no such suggestions and that Ms Corscadden had in fact propositioned him.

He said that Ms Corscadden had confided to him that a relationship she was in had ended. He said: "I specifically recall that Ros went on to say that, now her relationship...had come to an end this had 'left a slot' that needed to be filled.

"I was a little surprised by this comment because it was made in a flirtatious way and it seemed to me that Ros was propositioning me and implying that she and I could begin a sexual relationship. I was not interested in this but didn't want to hurt her feelings."

Ms Corscadden has alleged that Mr Lees told a journalist that "sometimes he felt as though he was 'running a brothel' and a 'team of prostitutes'."

But Mr Lees vehemently denied this, and said it would have been "complete madness" to talk in that way to a journalist.

But he acknowledged that he may have referred to brokers being "whores of the industry", which he explained was a "widely used and well known euphemism in our industry" and was not referring to women.

Ms Corscadden has also alleged that Mr Lees told her that she had "a fantastic pair of tits" during a sales conference in Monaco in April 2007. He denied ever making the comments.

Mr Lees said that he believed that Ms Corscadden had made the allegations "as leverage to secure an improved bonus payout".

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