Attorney Kate Baker Alleges Boss Bullied Her Into Staying Single, Childless

Kate Baker fired

By her own assessment, Kate Baker was a competent attorney who also wanted a personal life. But her boss, Chris Lingard allegedly saw things differently, berating Baker and her work, and telling her not to have a relationship or children.

The "bullying" that she experienced at the Follett Stock law firm, Baker, 33, told an employment tribunal in Exeter, England, this week, caused her to take time off from work after she became sick from the stress, The Daily Telegraph reports.

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Baker (shown above) was eventually fired, for reasons that she alleges were related to her gender and her desire to date. Baker began working as a lawyer in 2004, earning 45,000 pounds a year (about $72,000 if exchanged today) before her dismissal in 2012.

"In my career I have never been told by a colleague or supervising partner that my work is 's***,' the London newspaper quotes her as saying in a statement provided the court. During that exchange with Lingard, which occurred last May, Baker described the treatment as coming "out of the blue."

She noted that Lingard, the law firm's managing partner, had awarded her a prize the prior December, after she had worked at the firm for just two months -- "and when I was still single."

Even as she was out sick, Baker charged that Lingard, berated her "for 1.5 hours and attempted to dismiss me by email."

More: Survey: Bullies Are Overtaking The Workplace

Baker told the tribunal that she was made aware several times that Lingard, who is in his 50s, didn't want her to date or have children -- and was even told so by his wife. The tribunal judge read Baker's statement, which said: "Mr. Lingard on many occasions told me that he did not want me in a relationship or to have babies. I have a text message from Mr. Lingard's wife, which says, 'he doesn't want you in a relationship!!!"

The law firm has denied the claims of bullying and harassment.

Baker said that she wasn't the only employee who endured Lingard's wrath. He regularly criticized staff for taking lunch, the manner in which they answered phone calls and for leaving the blinds down, she said.

She also accused the firm of operating "a culture of bullying" and "oppression," and said employees weren't allowed to talk between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., a period they called "golden time."

Baker's claims of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal are to get a full hearing at a later date.

In the U.S., 35 percent of workers report that they've been bullied by a colleague. But 40 percent of bullied workers said that they didn't report the incidents.





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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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94 Comments

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FCI Fincl Serv

I had a boss like that my first job after college! My supervisor was getting into my personal life, who my girlfriends were,etc. I finally quit that slave shop! Most people didn't last one year! The turnover rate was over 70%!

January 17 2013 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
timant2007

If I were the boss, I would'nt have been too worried about that scenario.

January 15 2013 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Velocity105

I hope she wins a fortune. I'd love to see that company taken apart and put out of business.

January 15 2013 at 2:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Velocity105's comment
danielnheisner

Why should she get a fortune? She should get three years salary tops.

January 16 2013 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ransomwright

And people wonder why we need unions.

January 14 2013 at 11:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ransomwright's comment
uncommonsensesc

No, we need to have a backbone, stand up for ourselves and find another job!!!

January 15 2013 at 12:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DEBORAH

I can relate. When I interviewed for a job, after hired, I was told "Dont' get pregnant!.

January 14 2013 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
meemawbrock

Sounds like a bunch of crap to me. She didn't have to go back
to the office. dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
What ever was going on, you must have enjoyed it.

January 14 2013 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bhalle1

Why did she work there so long/ if she started in 2004, and was 'competent' by her words, she might have looked for a new job in say...2008? This wasn't new behavior on their part, she said it was ongoing. Find a new job.

January 14 2013 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

"NUTZ!" "BS!".

January 11 2013 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sue

To address the article, bullying will eventually occur in your life or in the lives of those you love. You can accept the treatment or you can try to confront it. What matters, is that you are true to yourself. If you will not stand up for the right thing, you will be miserable. Yes, I am currently unemployed due to my trying to fix a bad situation but I can live with myself and the other 19 people still call me friend. I can live with that.

January 11 2013 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sue

The bully in the healthcare facility I worked at was a sheer genius. Overweight and gay, he would overstep his abilities at the bottom of the professional heap and then blame his failures on his coworkers- all 20 of us individually. Because he was a member of protected groups in the workplace and we were longtime employees, it was obvious to management, that HE was the victim and we were the bullies. Nobody could imagine that one person could bully 20 people-guess they never heard of Adolf Hitler. Despite trying to correct his behavior by being forthright with him and telling him how much I disliked his abusive treatment of our co-workers, he reacted by going to the manager and writing up my adult discussion with him as a threatening gesture. Each of us kept our own account of how he treated us or sabotaged the equipment or the product, but when presented with his account versus any of ours, HIS was believed. Anyone who had the courage to face him down was accused of lying and eventually all who stood up against his verbally and physically abusive behavior either left willingly or was fired. In this case, management was complicit in allowing his behavior to continue. When we took it to the next level, Human Resources, WE were read the riot act for deviating from the chain of command. Eventually, after standing up to these actions, they fired me on a trumped up charge of insubordination. I very much miss my coworkers of 20 plus years but I do NOT miss the stress of dealing with the lies, the verbal abuse, the denigration of my abilities, and the ever present smirk on his face when he WON another point. All I wanted to do was to take care of my patients, do the best job possible, and get the job done with the sense of joy and satisfaction that I used to derive from working at the hospital.

January 11 2013 at 3:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sue's comment
TinBon434

Did you file a case with EEOC? Their is such thing as retaliation and wrongful termination. If your co worker were willing to back you with their written complaints you mighthave a chance to get your day in court. I think they give a person 188 days to file against the company. Especially if he was harrassing you and you could prove it. NEVER go to Human Resources their job is protect the company, and get all the information out of you. Then they use the information in their favor, against you and to cover themselves. I woul;d file against them if it isn't to late.

Companies have a responsibility written in their policies to protect their emoployees. IF YOU FILE against them they WILL FIRE HIM. It becomes a permanant NEGATIVE mark against the facility. Also, he becomes a liabilty to them. If you win and it cost them money and they will to be banned from ALL government funding and programs. I seen tthis many times. Get your friends to write you letter and take them when you file your report. Take a copy of your written HR complaint and company policies the EEOC. They will have to explain to EEOC what they did or didn't do when you and the others complained. FILE HERE http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm

January 15 2013 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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