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Law firm boss 'told me not to have babies'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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A female solicitor claimed that her bullying boss did not want her to have a relationship or to have babies, an employment tribunal judge has been told.

Blonde Kate Baker, 33, was sacked from law firm Follett Stock after she formed a relationship, an Exeter employment tribunal heard.

The wife of her manager Chris Lingard even sent her a text message reiterating that he wanted her to stay single, she said.

In her statement to the Exeter tribunal judge Christopher Carstairs, Miss Baker outlined an alleged culture of bullying by Mr Lingard, who is in his 50s, which included workers not being able to talk for four hours a day.

The £45,000-a-year lawyer said in her statement: "The Respondent has stated in their response that while 'striving for legal excellence' it adopts 'an informal and lighthearted approach'.

"In my experience this is completely untrue. Employees are not allowed to talk between the hours of 9am-1pm and they call this 'golden time'.

"Employees are often criticised by Mr Lingard... and the Respondent does not adopt an 'informal and lighthearted approach'."

Miss Baker, from Budleigh Salterton, Devon, qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and had been handling her own caseload since being a trainee.

She said in her first two weeks at the firm working out of their Truro office in Cornwall, she saw one woman reduced to tears by her boss and claimed Mr Lingard also shouted at another female about swapping desks.

She also claimed she had witnessed telephone conversations where he was aggressive with staff.

She also claimed Mr Lingard regularly criticised the staff when he attended the Exeter office where she was based.

The tribunal judge read her statement which stated: "Mr Lingard on many occasions told me that he did not want me in a relationship or to have babies."

She accused the firm of 'a culture of bullying, oppression, and lack of good systems and support for the employees'.

Guy Hollebon, representing the firm at the Exeter hearing, said Miss Baker's bullying and harassment claims were denied.

Mr Hollebon said some important clients were impressed with Miss Baker and "seemed to like you" and "you were a real hit with him" but denied this was to do with her gender.

A full hearing to hear Miss Baker's claims of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal is due to be heard at a later date.

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