A £90,000-a-year businesswoman was forced to quit her job at Pertemps after her boss made a string of “degrading” comments – including references to the size of a colleague’s breasts, an employment tribunal has been told.
Mum-of-three Debbie Smith told the hearing that recruitment group chief Tim Watts also described her as a “sexy nurse” and once asked her to call him before she took a shower.
The 49-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield, said she found his alleged comments “degrading, humiliating and offensive”.
Mrs Smith is trying to sue Mr Watts, the chairman of the Meriden-based Pertemps Group, for sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.
She is also pursuing a claim of victimisation, alleging she had been singled out and forced to leave her job as managing director of a newly-created subsidiary of Pertemps after filing a grievance against Mr Watts.
Mrs Smith alleged the comments began on her first day working for him in September 2008.
She told the hearing in Birmingham: “I said that I had known a fellow Pertemps employee at school. He (Mr Watts) said to me: ‘Were her breasts as big as that at school?’
“I was shocked and taken aback. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to be seen to be making trouble on my first day.”
Mrs Smith, who left Pertemps after a year, said she did not report to Mr Watts and saw him on a handful of occasions.
She said: “It seemed that on every occasion (that we met) he took the opportunity to comment inappropriately.
“He once asked me to phone him before going for a shower which I thought was wholly inappropriate.
“Mr Watts told me I looked like a sexy nurse. These were sexual comments which were degrading, humiliating and offensive. Those comments would not have been made if I was male.”
Mrs Smith, who is married, said she had worked in recruitment for more than 25 years and spent four years with Pertemps in the 1980s.
She told the hearing she recalled Mr Watts as “shrewd, generous, inspirational and eccentric” but went on to quickly change her mind.
She also wants compensation for loss of earnings, loss of pension contributions and injured feelings.
Mr Watts has yet to give evidence to the hearing but is contesting Mrs Smith’s claims.
The hearing continues.