Boss must pay for being a Christmas party sex pest
An office worker who accused her boss of being a serial sex pest won her claim of sexual harassment at an employment tribunal yesterday.
Josephine Chi, 28, was groped at an office party by Anthony Baker, who runs a property investment firm. He was also accused of bombarding Miss Chi, an accounts executive, with late-night text messages and e-mails. Baker, who is married with a child, had already been questioned and warned by police over alleged sexual harassment of another young woman employee.
The managing director had denied using his power to humiliate Miss Chi. But a panel at a Central London Employment Tribunal upheld Miss Chi’s sex discrimination claim against him and his company. It found that Baker had fondled and kissed Miss Chi at the office party in a nightclub and offered to take her home.
Baker was found to have sent Miss Chi a text at 4.25am, reading “You’re so s’, meaning “sexy”. He also tried to seduce her by e-mail, writing: “Someone’s got the hots for you.”
The panel ruled in its judgment that Baker’s attentions in the nightclub were “unwanted” and had “intimidated” Miss Chi. Baker was accused of harassing a second woman employee, Danielle Henderson, with constant phone calls and texts even after she resigned.
He told the tribunal he had a four-month affair with Miss Henderson that almost cost him his marriage to his wife of six years, Vicky, but denied harassing her. The tribunal made no finding of fact in relation to the alleged harassment of Ms Henderson.
Miss Chi, from Clapham, South London, said: “This was never about the money or getting even with Anthony Baker. “I didn’t want to settle my case and take the money and run. I just wanted justice to be served in court.”
Miss Chi, who is of Chinese origin, came to Britain from Melbourne in 2004. She joined the firm’s head office in Mayfair, Central London, in April last year. She broke down as she told the tribunal that Baker had drunkenly groped her at NYT nightclub in the West End of London in December that year. She said: “He made unwanted advances towards me, including caressing me on a couch, even though I made it clear I wanted to go home.
“He started to caress my back and asked me to stay a little longer. I said ‘no’, but he kept insisting and continued to caress my back for the duration that I was sitting there. “He offered to pay for a taxi for my colleague and said he would take me home personally at the end of the night. Again I declined his offer.”
As she left, Baker kissed her partially on the lips, she claimed. She said: “I felt he forced the kiss closer to the lips than on the cheek.” She alleged that Baker inundated her with “distressing” texts and e-mails.
She said: “At times I felt threatened by him and I believed that I was unsafe if I continued in his employment. “I believe he will continue to behave this way to women and use his power to humiliate.”
Baker was formerly an equity research analyst for two investment banks and, according to Miss Chi, is a millionaire at 29. Giving evidence, Baker admitted that police had visited the office in late 2005 and warned him over his behaviour towards Ms Henderson. He denied ever harassing her and revealed that they had been lovers in early 2005. Baker denied ever fondling Miss Chi, and claimed that his texts and e-mails were “light-hearted banter”, but the tribunal rejected his evidence. Miss Chi resigned her post in February and now works for a rival property firm. The tribunal panel is due to make its compensation award next month.