One of these was Julie Hyatt, a clerk employed by a plumbing merchant’s firm in Shropshire, who quit on the grounds that she could not put up with the inappropriate behaviour of her boss, which involved comments, slapping and grabbing parts of her body. In March 1981 a tribunal in Birmingham decided that the circumstances amounted to ‘unfair dismissal’ and she was awarded £954 compensation.

Hyatt’s case was the best known because it featured in the 1981 TV Eye documentary ‘Unwelcome Advances’ (broadcast in October) and was covered widely in newspapers of the time, bringing it to public attention. On television her boss denied ‘fancying’ her and told newspaper reporters he intended to appeal because ‘any girl can make up a story about a man’ (Daily Mirror 14 March 1981). The use of ‘unfair’ and ‘constructive dismissal’ was a limited mechanism for tackling sexual harassment because it only applied where women had lost their jobs.


Christine Roche, ‘It’s all right, I don’t fancy you’