A top executive at a recruitment firm has denied accusations that a high-flying female employee was subjected to sexist jibes from her flamboyant boss.
Debbie Smith, of Sutton Coldfield, alleges that Pertemps chief executive Tim Watts said she looked like “a sexy nurse”, was “pretty” and told offensive jokes.
Mrs Smith, who was employed as a £90,000 a-year managing director for subsidiary company CNA Executive but was made redundant in June 2009, also claimed at the tribunal in Birmingham that he told her to phone him before she went into the shower.
But John Smith, who was responsible for recruiting Mrs Smith in 2008 into the franchise business, told the tribunal he didn’t hear Mr Watts make the “nurse” comment which is alleged to have happened during a meeting.
He said: “I was at the meeting in which Mrs Smith alleged she was called a sexy nurse by Mr Watts but there was no such remark made in my presence.
"It is not his style to make comments like that. She did own a long white dress with buttons and it did look like something a medical practitioner would wear. But I don’t recall that she was wearing it at the time.”
He added of the “pretty” comment: “As part of a long introduction of her recruitment to the group, Mr Watts spoke of Mrs Smith’s success. She had previously worked for the company, so he may have remarked on how she was as attractive now as she was back then.
“He would have said it to give a good impression and there were no complaints from Mrs Smith at the time.”
Mrs Smith, 49, also alleged that on another occasion Mr Watts made two offensive jokes.
However, Mr Smith explained: “To the best of my knowledge I don’t recall him making a joke about oral sex in her presence. He has an excellent record when it comes to his behaviour towards women.”
The tribunal has yet to hear from Mr Watts who denies all claims.
Mrs Smith was made redundant from the company in June 2009 following losses of £200,000.
Mr Smith said: “Trading conditions within the recruitment business were atrocious. It was a very difficult time. We needed to make savings and we told Mrs Smith that we would have to reduce her salary by 50 per cent, but she would retain £10,000 for each franchise that she sold.
“She said that she would only accept the reduction in salary if there was a reduction in hours and proposed to work 10am until 3pm. She would also pick up some hours at home.
“I didn’t believe this was a practical solution to her problem because we work in a fast-paced industry. Also it was well known that Mr Watts didn’t favour home-working.
“We decided it wasn’t acceptable and took the decision to terminate her employment.
“She went off with ill health and we decided to pay her in lieu of notice.”
Following her redundancy from the company, Mrs Smith launched a claim of unfair dismissal due to sexual discrimination. She also alleges sexual harrassment as a result of comments made by Mr Watts before her redundancy.
She is claiming for a loss of earnings, loss of pension contributions and injured feelings.