Barratt Homes boss rewarded by thousands after ‘revenge’ job reference

Barratt was ordered to pay a former employee thousands of dollars after she received a bad reference for a new job after filing a sexual harassment complaint

A Barratt Homes boss has been awarded thousands for victimization after missing out on a new job due to a ‘revenge’ referral.

A labor court was told the women had already received a financial settlement from the company in a sexual harassment case.

After resigning from her position, she received a verbal recommendation from her manager which resulted in a new job offer with another company which was withdrawn.

Stuart Dodson, Development Director for West Scotlandwas also the subject of another grievance regarding the handling of the woman’s harassment complaint.

The claimant, named Ms NA Righetti in court documents, had worked for BDW Trading Ltd from January 2017 until her resignation in March 2020.

She was first employed as a Planning Manager and was promoted to Lands Manager a year later.

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In 2019, she filed a complaint against the firm following a grievance against Mr Stuart Dodson and Caroline Collins, Director of Human Resources, over the way her sexual harassment complaint had been handled.

The claim was withdrawn following a financial settlement that included clauses that the company should not make unfavorable or derogatory comments about him and would provide references for future employment.

A year after quitting her job, a recruitment consultant, Elisha Johnson, contacted Ms Righetti, suggesting she would be the ‘right fit’ for a new role as a senior development planner at property development company Banks Group Ltd.

After a second three-hour interview, she was offered the job and the company had “very positive feedback” about the candidate. She accepted the offer three days later.

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The court was told that at or around this time, Andy Liddell of Banks had contacted Mr Dodson to ask him for information about the claimant, including why she left her old job.

Banks contacted later contacted Ms Johnson to say the job advertisement had been withdrawn because two ‘informal references’ had misrepresented the claimant and her behavior.

This led Ms Righetti to take action in the Employment Tribunal for being a victim under the Equality Act 2010.

The Barratts boss denied that any aspect of the grievance concerned him and claimed he was unaware of the settlement.

However, the court found this to be “implausible”.

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Banks claimed they were ‘uncomfortable’ that she had asked for more money than the advertised salary of £60,000 a year.

However, the court was told that the recruitment consultant had encouraged her to pursue a higher salary.

Banks also said there was a training issue as Ms Righetti had been out of work for about a year, but that hadn’t raised her at any point before she was offered the job.

The company also claimed it took too long to respond to the job offer, but it was accepted within three days.

Employment judge Muriel Robison said the claimant was ‘credible and reliable’ in giving evidence and Barratts was ordered to pay her former employee £16,265 in compensation.

She said: ‘We accepted Mr Maclean’s (plaintiff’s solicitor) argument that Mr Dodson had a motive or justification for providing a negative reference, which amounts to prejudice, and that the reason why he did so was, at least, significantly influenced by the fact that she settled a claim against the respondent.

“We did not accept Mr. Dodson’s testimony that he did not give a negative reference to the applicant, indeed his testimony was that he did not give a reference at all, and we do not did not accept.

“We had no hesitation in concluding, based on the facts as found, that the reason Plaintiff received a negative referral was that she had already filed and settled a claim against Respondent. under the Equality Act.”

About Jessica J. Bass

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