Female lecturer was 'bullied'

March 26, 1999

Two senior managers victimised a black female lecturer at North West London College by ignoring her complaints of sex discrimination, a tribunal ruled.

Claims of racial discrimination by lecturer Lee Powell-Hinds were rejected by the north London tribunal, but it found that Ms Powell-Hinds had suffered from sex discrimination.

Mark Hill, head of art, and Jonathan Edwards, section manager in art and design, were criticised for disregarding Ms Powell-Hinds's allegations.

"It may be that the respondents desired to sweep the whole thing under the carpet," the judgment said, "but it seems clear from the evidence that there had here been specific complaints of sex discrimination I followed by a complete failure by the respondents to investigate."

Regardless of whether the allegations were true, the applicant was "victimised contrary to section four of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975" because of the managers' failure to examine her claims. She was treated less favourably than others.

The problems centred on Brian Birch, Ms Powell-Hinds's curriculum leader who, the tribunal found, had an "unsatisfactory" attitude towards women. Mr Birch's attitude "was such that he was adopting towards them a bullying and domineering attitude". There was no evidence of sexual molestation.

Although Mr Birch was demoted following staff complaints, Ms Powell-Hinds's complaints about him were repeatedly ignored, and she resigned.

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