A female company executive who has claimed that she was forced out of her £90,0000-a-year job because she was subjected to sexual jibes has denied that she has made the allegations for financial gain.
Giving evidence at an employment tribunal in Birmingham, Debbie Smith, aged 49, stood by her claims that her boss, recruitment group chief Tim Watts, made “degrading” comments to her while she was the managing director of a subsidiary of Meriden-based Pertemps group.
Mrs Smith is trying to sue Mr Watts for sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and victimisation, alleging she had been singled out and forced to leave her job.
During cross examination on the second day of the hearing on Tuesday, Mrs Smith said that she did not launch the action because the business had suffered heavy losses in 2009.
Paul Downes QC, representing Mr Watts, who has denied Mrs Smith’s allegations against him, said: “You set this up to deploy against Mr Watts for your own selfish gain.
“The position in early June (2009) was that things had gone from bad to worse. There were losses of £200,000.”
Denying these allegations, mum-of-three Mrs Smith, from Sutton Coldfield, said she had used money she had set aside for her children’s education to launch legal action against Mr Watts.
She said that her former boss had made her feel uncomfortable by calling her “a sexy nurse” and telling sexual jokes over a business lunch.
“I’m sorry if I come across as puritanical but I felt uncomfortable, I was offended. Those comments would not have been made if I was male,” she told the tribunal.
“It seemed that on every occasion he took the opportunity to comment inappropriately. I used to dread seeing Tim Watts.
“I didn’t want to fail him or for him to lose his investment, but I didn’t respect him at all.”
During the cross examination Mr Downes said that there were inaccuracies in Mrs Smith’s claims and the evidence she had given in court.
He said: “There are all sorts of details here that you are wrong about or mistaken about. Mr Watts deplores sexism and racism.”
Mrs Smith said she had worked in recruitment for more than 25 years. She is suing for compensation for loss of earnings, loss of pension contributions and injured feelings.
Mr Watts will give evidence at the tribunal later this week.