BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Friday, 7 September, 2001, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Offensive e-mail lands law firm in trouble
justice and e-mail
One message is leading a firm of lawyers to a tribunal
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

An offensive e-mail message could land a city law firm with unlimited damages for racial and sexual discrimination.

Two lawyers at London law firm Charles Russell are being taken to an industrial tribunal over an e-mail message in which they asked for a "busty blonde" to replace their black secretary.

The secretary saw the message, and has now decided to take the firm to a tribunal because it left her too distraught to continue working.

The law firm said it will "vigorously defend" itself against the action.

Distraught worker

Charles Russell is facing the tribunal after a 32-year-old secretary accidentally read an e-mail message written by lawyer Adam Dowdney soon after the woman announced her intention to resign.

The mail message said: "Can we go for a real fit busty blonde this time? She can't be any more trouble and at least it would provide some entertainment!".

After seeing the message the woman complained to the head of personnel at the firm, and received letters of apology from Mr Dowdney and his colleague Charles Hopewell who she also worked for.

Both Mr Dowdney and Mr Hopewell have since dismissed the e-mail as a "thoughtless joke".

But the woman was rendered so distraught by the message that her doctor declared her too ill to work. She is now taking the case to an industrial tribunal that will hear the case next year.

If the tribunal finds for the woman it has the power to reward her with unlimited damages. The law firm said it would mount a vigorous defence against the charges.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Muslims sue AOL over chat rooms
11 Apr 00 | Europe
French anti-racists sue Yahoo
06 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
When sending is spying
10 Nov 98 | Office Life
That joke isn't funny anymore
24 Sep 99 | UK
Racism rife 25 years on
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories