Belfast Telegraph

Belfast O2 shop worker in sex harassment case receives £35k payout

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland phone shop worker who claimed she was sexually harassed by a senior colleague has been awarded £35,000.

Natasha McCullough, who was a sales adviser in an O2 Store in Belfast, took a sexual harassment case against her employer, Telefonica UK Limited.

She has now settled her case, without admission of liability by the company.

In the proceedings Ms McCullough alleged that she endured sexual harassment by her line manager between January 2016 and August 2016, which she said caused her great distress.

It was also alleged that her complaint was not properly handled. She went on sick leave and has since resigned.

Ms McCullough said: "This entire episode ended up being a serious source of stress for me.

"I had a lot of painful and unsightly physical symptoms of stress, breathing difficulties and, eventually, panic attacks and I felt frightened, powerless and vulnerable. I felt that I was being isolated because I had complained about the behaviour."

In settling the case, Telefonica UK Ltd apologised to Ms McCullough for any injury to feelings, distress and upset caused.

The company affirmed its commitment to equality of opportunity.

It also undertook to liaise with the Equality Commission, which supported Ms McCullough's case, within three months to review its equal opportunities policies and procedures to ensure they are fully compliant with national and European equality law.

Telefonica UK Ltd agreed to implement recommendations from the commission and to provide equality training to all staff, including managers, to include their obligations and responsibilities under the Sex Discrimination Order 1976.

Dr Evelyn Collins, chief executive of the Equality Commission, said: "This case should remind all employers how important it is to ensure, not just that they have appropriate policies in place, but also that their policies are actually being implemented."

She added: "Managers should be alert to unacceptable behaviour and take appropriate action to stop it."

Belfast Telegraph

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