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BAE Systems ordered to pay £360,000 compensation in sex discrimination claim

The Court of Appeal has ruled against BAE Systems and ordered the company to pay a sum of £360,178 to Marion Konczak, 62, over a ‘single sexist comment’.

Konczak worked as a secretary at BAE Systems from 1998 to 2007. She alleged that during her time in the company’s Samlesbury office she was subjected to bullying and harassment. In 2005 she moved to the company’s commercial team in Warton but was unhappy. In 2006 her manager at the time suggested she return to work at Samlesbury but she alleged that this would involve her working with officers who she claimed had mistreated her in the past.

In 2006, in response to her concerns, her line manager said to her that ‘Women take things more emotionally than men while men tend to forget things and move on’. This comment was the ‘final straw’ for Konczak who then went off sick with stress and was dismissed in July 2007.

Konczak took BAE to an Employment Tribunal which upheld this single comment as sex discrimination. The Tribunal either rejected or made no finding on 15 other allegations. The order for compensation was made to Konczak in October 2014

BAE appealed earlier this year arguing that the award was excessive and that the manager’s comments alone were not responsible for Konczak’s mental breakdown. The Court of Appeal rejected this, Lord Justice Underhill ruled that ‘the tribunal’s reasoning is perfectly clear; and it is in my view equally clear that it is sustainable’. Furthermore, ‘The basic rule is that a wrongdoer must take his victim as he finds him, eggshell personality and all. That is not inherently unjust’.