Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

MoD must pay gay soldier 190,000

Bombardier Kerry Fletcher
Ms Fletcher's career was wrecked by the sergeant and other colleagues

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been ordered to pay nearly 190,000 to a lesbian soldier who was sexually harassed by a male sergeant.

Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher has won 186,895.52 for sex discrimination, victimisation and sexual harassment.

An employment tribunal heard that Miss Fletcher, originally from Sheffield but now living in Birmingham, was pestered at an Army stables in North Yorkshire.

The 32-year-old's career collapsed as a result of the sergeant's actions.

Miss Fletcher, who is openly gay, said the sergeant and other male colleagues tried to destroy her career because she spurned his advances.

The tribunal in 2007 heard the unnamed staff sergeant pestered Ms Fletcher for sex and sent her explicit text messages while she worked at the Army stables. She resigned in February after serving in the Army's Royal Artillery for 10 years.

This is as severe a case of victimisation following an allegation of sexual harassment as one could see
Tribunal judgement

Earlier this year, the MoD offered Miss Fletcher an apology for the conduct of the male sergeant.

Miss Fletcher told the tribunal that the senior NCO, who cannot be named, did not take her rejection well and, as he had considerable standing in the unit, he began to make life difficult for her.

She went on: "It became clear that the authorities in the regiment took [the sergeant's] side against me.

"This became more so when I began my tribunal proceedings as the regimental authorities took this as a direct attack on the regiment."

In its judgment, the tribunal said: "This is as severe a case of victimisation following an allegation of sexual harassment as one could see in an employment tribunal.

"The claimant was subjected to a sustained campaign of victimisation over a lengthy period.

"The victimisation extended to imposition of disciplinary sanctions, impinging the claimants mental stability and obstructing her transfer to a more suitable posting."

The MoD has been ordered to pay 30,000 in respect of "injury to feelings", 20,000 for "aggravated damages" and 50,000 for "exemplary damages".

A further 65,558 was ordered to be paid in respect of lost earning and pension entitlement.

The remainder of the total is made up of Miss Fletcher's costs and interest payments.

According to the judgment, Miss Fletcher has given one year's notice to the Army and will leave early next year after completing 12 years of service.

It said she has been unsuccessful in her application to become an RSPCA inspector and she "considers her future employment prospects are bleak".

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