Student gets £6,000 settlement in Applegreen sexual harassment case

Jodie Jones, a student who worked part-time at Applegreen, felt her case was not dealt with appropriately by the company
Jodie Jones, a student who worked part-time at Applegreen, felt her case was not dealt with appropriately by the company

A sexual harassment case taken by a female student employee against Applegreen has been settled for £6,000 without admission of liability.

Jodie Jones, a student who worked part time for Applegreen, had alleged that a male co-worker had made offensive and sexually explicit comments to her while she was working. She also claimed that she reported the allegations to her manager immediately and hoped that they would be dealt with properly.

Applegreen is a motorway service station operator with a number of premises in Northern Ireland.

The case taken against them, assisted by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, was settled for £6,000 without admission of liability.

Jodie Jones said: “I started working in Applegreen when I was 17; I just wanted to earn some money whilst I was studying.

“I was really pleased to get the job and delighted that it worked around my college timetable. Things were going well until a male colleague made sexual comments to me that made me feel really uncomfortable and embarrassed. Later during the same shift he made more comments and I was humiliated by what he said. I reported both the incidents to my manager and she replied all she could do was apologise.”

She continued: “I discovered my complaints hadn’t been passed on to the store director and I told my parents what had happened. They were extremely concerned and they accompanied me to the shop the following day. My family and I felt that my manager was not dealing appropriately with the serious issues I had raised. I felt I had no option but to quit my job.”

The Equality Commission’s Anne McKernan said: “Only a few months ago we publicised a number of other cases regarding young women who alleged sexual harassment in the workplace in Northern Ireland. It is most disappointing that here we have another very similar experience of a young woman who is simply trying to earn some money to help pay her way through college, who felt harassed within the workplace and that her employer appeared unprepared to deal with the harassment when the situation arose.”

Without admission of liability, the company has apologised to Jodie Jones and acknowledged and expressed regret for the injury to feelings, hurt and distress experienced by her. It also reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring staff are free to work in an environment in which they are safeguarded from sexual harassment.