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Croydon cleaning firm boss sexually harassed widow and groped her at work


A WIDOWED mother-of-three has been awarded £30,000 in compensation after being groped by the boss of a Croydon cleaning firm.

An employment tribunal heard how Jennifer Newman, 34, was dubbed "proper top totty" in front of clients by Steve Hoad, managing director of cleaning firm Hydro Cleansing.

This was part of a sustained campaign of harassment against Ms Newman, whose husband died in a car crash in 2009 – which has resulted in the payout following a tribunal hearing in West Croydon.

Ms Newman said the problems began when Mr Hoad emailed her a picture of a semi-naked woman in bondage gear, asking: "Have you got a suit like this?"

On another occasion he threw a pen to the floor in front of clients and asked her to pick it up, but when she walked off he said "Look at that, proper top totty" to laughter from the clients.

The final straw came when Mr Hoad groped her bottom when she asked for a pay advance to go on holiday with friends.

Ms Newman told the tribunal: "I felt absolutely violated, upset and demeaned.

"It was as though Steve felt that by asking for an advance on my salary it gave him the right to touch me."

The £32,000-a-year executive reported the incident to HR, but the details were leaked to Mr Hoad's wife, Carol, who also worked for the firm.

Mrs Newman said Mr Hoad "got away with behaving as he wished" with the inappropriate comments "escalating" when she underwent breast enhancement surgery shortly after joining the firm.

She didn't report the initial incidents, saying she hoped "Steve would get bored of making such comments and sending offensive emails as time passed."

But when she decided to approach her boss to ask for a loan, which was offered in her contract, to pay for a family holiday in Cornwall, he groped her left buttock in his private office at the firm's Beddington Lane depot, the tribunal was told.

"I felt trapped, I didn't know who I could turn to," Ms Newman said.

The behaviour was eventually reported to the firm's HR manager and news soon filtered down to Mr Hoad's wife.

On returning from her holiday on August 19, Ms Newman was told "within an hour" she had been made redundant in a meeting - without the Hoads present.

Mr Hoad and his firm failed to send representatives to the tribunal where the panel unanimously upheld Ms Newman's complaints.

She was awarded £29,525.06 in damages, while Hydro Cleansing and Mr Hoad were ordered to also pay her legal costs, totalling £12,897.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Newman said: "This means a lot to me and my family - it's compensation for what this man put me through.

"Hopefully it will be recognised that I've made a stand for lots of women out there who are afraid to speak out.

"I took my problem to HR and they broke my confidence, people need to be protected."

She added: "I'm a youngish single mum. I've been through a lot, but I've picked myself up and dusted myself down.

"I've never experienced working for any company like this. But I'm career-minded and I couldn't bury my head in the sand.

"It's a relief, justice has prevailed. The next step is moving on."

Croydon cleaning firm boss sexually harassed widow and groped her at work

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