Sexual harassment pole-dance claimant loses battle

A recruitment consultant who claimed her boss sexually harassed her by forcing her to share a striptease allegedly tried to perform a pole-dance in the club herself.

Rachel Kelly, 38, sued her former firm IDPP Consulting for about £175,000 for lost earnings and hurt feelings, after alleging she was bullied into attending a Spearmint Rhino lap-dancing club by her line manager Danny Whelan.

She claimed that “under great duress”, she was forced to share a private lap-dance with him.

The recruitment consultant also claimed victimisation and constructive dismissal, the Telegraph reported.

But she failed on all three counts after a panel at London South employment tribunal ruled that she had been a “willing participant” at the club.

The tribunal heard how Kelly herself had tried to dance around a pole on the night at the flagship Spearmint Rhino club on Tottenham Court Road.

She allegedly laughed throughout the pair’s lap-dance, and then had to be pulled off the pole by a bouncer to stop her from performing her own dance around it.

The tribunal ruled: “Kelly was not compelled to attend. She could have refused to attend.”

Kelly gave evidence that she was “distraught and upset” at seeing young women strip for money. But colleagues said she was “exuberant” about her experience the next day at the firm’s office in Richmond, south-west London.

The tribunal ruled: “We have come to the conclusion that this was an occasion which was fuelled extensively by alcohol.

“Kelly had decided to attend the lap-dancing club in full knowledge of what the establishment was. We consider that Kelly’s demeanour and conduct at work on the morning after the visit to the lap-dancing club sheds an illuminating light on the likely attitude of Kelly to the events the night before.

“We accept IDPP’s witnesses’ accounts as evidence of Kelly’s demeanour. In the circumstances, we conclude that whatever actually happened at the lap-dancing club, Kelly was a willing participant.”

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