BAE Systems: Sexist comment £360k payout 'excessive'

BAE Systems Warton Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Marion Konczak worked for BAE Systems in Lancashire

A £360,000 payout to a former secretary over a "single sexist comment" at work was "excessive", a major firm has told an appeal.

An Employment Tribunal had ruled Marion Konczak was unfairly dismissed from her job with BAE Systems in Lancashire.

It upheld a sex discrimination claim that a sexist comment from Mrs Konczak's manager "pushed her over the edge" into a breakdown.

Three Court of Appeal judges have reserved judgement on the case.

Mrs Konczak, now aged 62, worked for the company in Samlesbury and Warton from 1998 to 2007.

She had complained to her male manager that four men she worked with "had bullied and harassed her, including sexually" in 2006,. He responded that "women take things more emotionally then men whilst men tend to forget things and move on."

She argued his comment was the "final straw" and she went off sick with stress and was dismissed in July 2007.

An Employment Tribunal upheld the single complaint in 2008 of sexual discrimination relating the manager's comment although it made no finding on 15 others.

Mrs Konkczak was awarded £360,178.60 compensation in October 2014.

Her barrister, Tristan Jones, said it was fair because the manager's comment "pushed her over the edge" into a psychiatric breakdown which ruined her working life.

He added she has not been able to work since the manager's comment and her dismissal.

Paul Gilroy QC, for BAE, told the judges: "The excessive level of compensation awarded is an affront to justice", adding it was wrong to blame the manager's words alone for Mrs Konczak's psychiatric problems.

Mr Jones, defending the payout, told the court: "Her compensation has been calculated on the normal basis reflecting her lost income and pension," he added.

"These lengthy proceedings have prolonged and are prolonging her illness...(and) BAE is liable for such prolongation."

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