Woman wins sex discrimination claim against Leeds United

A woman has won her claims of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against Leeds United Football Club.

Lucy Ward was employed as the club’s welfare and education officer for 17 years. She had also worked for the BBC as a commentator on women’s football.

Ms Ward claimed she was sacked because she was the partner of the club’s former coach, Neil Redfearn. She told the Employment Tribunal that the club’s chairman, Massimo Cellino, had allegedly said that she and Mr Redfearn “came as a pair”.

She said he had also made sexist remarks that football is no place for women, and they should be in the bedroom or the beautician’s instead.

The club denied the allegations and claimed she was sacked for exceeding her annual leave entitlement. It also said that she had repeatedly failed to work on Wednesdays. Ms Ward said she worked from home on Wednesdays. That was a long established work pattern and had been agreed with her line manager.

The tribunal found in her favour. It said it believed that Mr Cellino had made sexist comments.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Judge Stephen Keevash, said: “We conclude that this dismissal was unfair and that there was a gross unreasonable breach of the ACAS code of conduct.

“We find it extraordinary that this respondent (Leeds United) had no awareness of the ACAS code or what it contained and that it failed to comply with what are regarded as basic principles.”

A further hearing will now take place to decide the level of compensation.

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