Businessman fined £19,000 for making crude sexual comments to co-workers

Leslie Easton, 78, has been sued by an administrator for sexual harassment after she made a series of obnoxious remarks in the office and sent “extremely obnoxious” messages

Mr Easton, whose company is pictured in Sidcup, Kent, has been accused of making
Leslie Easton worked with Administrator Tina Donlon

An older businessman has been forced to pay a former employee £19,000 in damages after he “constantly” made inappropriate remarks to a younger employee.

Leslie Easton, 78, made a series of sexual comments about administrator Tina Donlon over a period of up to six years while working at his family-run double-glazing company.

He cracked dirty jokes when she wore shorts to work on a hot day and on another occasion when she was bending down to pick up a pen.

Easton also posted nearly 150 crude memes and offensive jokes to a WhatsApp group he added them to.

A south London court heard Easton joke when a customer commented that Miss Donlon was lucky to be able to wear shorts to the office that she had been asked to strip completely.

When the mother later picked up a pen from the floor in his office, he is said to have hinted that she was performing oral sex on him and said, “Oh, while you’re down there darling.”

Leslie Easton, 78, has now been ordered to pay £19,000 in damages to former employee Tina Donlon


Leslie Easton/ Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

When Miss Donlon complained to Easton’s son Justin, 55, who was also a director at the Kent-based company, he replied: “That’s my dad, he’s from the old school.”

The administrator left Leslie Easton and co in Sidcup in May 2020 after accusing Easton of making “constant sexual comments” and sending messages with “sexual overtones”.

She has now successfully sued Easton, who has run the company for 60 years, for sexual harassment.

The court heard Miss Donlon joined the company in 2014 to continue her accounting training, but within six months Easton began harassing her.

An anonymous letter from a customer was sent to the company in 2017, describing the comment Easton had made regarding her shorts.

“I had visited the store to inquire about window and door replacements throughout my property and was taken to an office where there was a lovely young lady wearing shorts,” it said.

“I remarked that it was unusual for shorts to be allowed in an office. Her response was that it was so hot that management allowed shorts to be worn on the occasion. I told her that she must have very good bosses, but at that time an elderly gray-haired gentleman appeared in the office.

“He commented on our conversation and his response surprised, disgusted and horrified me when he said, ‘I didn’t say she could wear them, I told her to just take them off.’

“I left the office in disgust but should have stayed to make sure the young lady was okay.”

Details of the incident were also backed up in a statement from a senior work colleague.

The hearing was also told that Miss Donlon felt humiliated, embarrassed and intimidated following the dropped pen incident in 2019.

Her boss also added her to a business WhatsApp group called Friends, through which he sent at least 146 memes and 31 videos between February 2018 and March 2020.

All have been labeled “extremely distasteful, crude and shockingly racist”, with around a third of the memes being sexual.

Some were labeled “just plain bad misogynistic jokes”, others contained pornographic imagery such as a manipulated image of a young naked boy with adult genitalia.

The tribunal heard Easton ignored Miss Donlon’s request to take her out of the group chat when she didn’t know how to leave him.

In February 2020, she asked her teenage daughter to help her remove her from the group.

Easton suffered a stroke in September 2020 and did not provide full statements about his behavior.

In a statement, his lawyers said: “Tina was also part of a group chat between Mr Leslie Easton and his family and friends, where texts, jokes and messages were exchanged between them. If any part of the shared dialogue offended her, she was free to leave the group chat at her leisure.”

But labor judge Corinna Ferguson said: The conduct at issue lasted for more than two years. It wasn’t about physical contact or harassment, but the WhatsApp messages were very persistent and relatively serious on the sexual content spectrum.

“Some of the pornographic images were disturbing. We find it extraordinary that a director and owner of a company sends messages of this nature to every employee.” Businessman fined £19,000 for making crude sexual comments to co-workers

Fry Electronics Team

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