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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK


Female bank manager guilty of sex bias

Midland Bank: "Pious" intentions not enough

The UK's youngest female bank manager has been found guilty of sexual discrimination against a male colleague, an industrial tribunal has found.

Kevin Bocquet reports on the tribunal findings
Andrew Gilbert, 24, filed a claim for sexual discrimination after he was dismissed from a probationary post at a branch of Midland Bank in Heywood, Greater Manchester by manager Kathryn Dowse, 21.

Mr Gilbert, now 24, said Miss Dowse was "rude and patronising" and on one occasion she had forced him to mop the floor.

The tribunal found that Midland Bank was guilty of illegal sexual discrimination when it fired him after repeated complaints about his performance from Miss Dowse.

Perceived as 'threat'

The tribunal chairman, John Goodman, said: "The inference we draw on the evidence is that Kathryn Dowse perceived Mr Gilbert as a young assertive man who posed some sort of threat to her authority as a relatively inexperienced young female manager.

"One illustration we find illuminating is her insistence on him participating in the mopping of the floor."

The tribunal found that Mr Gilbert was treated less favourably than his three female colleagues and criticised Midland Bank for dismissing him on Miss Dowse's testimony alone.

It also censured Miss Dowse, who did not attend the hearing, for not drawing Mr Gilbert's attention to the complaints she had made about him.

No practical safeguards

Mr Goodman said that Midland Bank had failed to enforce its own strict anti-discriminatory policy.

"No matter how pious and well intended those sentiments are, the employer must also take practical and active steps to ensure they are implemented.

"I can say quite emphatically we do not regard the conduct of the bank as indicative of taking such steps as were reasonably practical to avoid discrimination," he said.

Mr Gilbert, who now works as a theatre box office manager, said: "I am absolutely delighted.

"It was important for me because I felt she was just getting away with this and all my colleagues supported me.

"I am glad I have won this for the sake of other people."

The tribunal is now considering how much Mr Gilbert's should be awarded in damages.

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