Football club employee awarded £290,000 payout in tribunal case

Welfare officer won unfair dismissal and sex discrimination tribunal against owner who reportedly said football ‘is no place for women’

Leeds United Football Club has been ordered to pay former employee Lucy Ward around £290,000 following her victory in an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination tribunal.

Ward, the club’s education and welfare officer, claimed she was sacked because she was the partner of former head coach Neil Redfearn. He was placed on gardening leave on 3 July 2015, the same day she was suspended.

The club argued that she was dismissed after exceeding her annual leave entitlement by travelling to Canada to work for the BBC at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Ward told the panel at the tribunal that, during a meeting between Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino and the ladies’ team’s manager, Cellino said that football “is no place for women. They should be in the bedroom or the beauticians’”.

It was also reported that Cellino dismissed Ward as he believed she and her partner “came as a pair”. Employment judge Stephen Keevash ruled in her favour in April, saying the club had taken a ‘sexist’ view and the reasons for her dismissal were a ‘sham’.

The judgement, announced by Ward’s legal team FrontRow Legal, said the club had been ordered to pay around £190,000 in compensation and damages, as well as the cost of her legal fees, which were estimated to be in the region of £100,000.

In response to the judgement, Ward said: “I am delighted that my case has now concluded with a judgment that is reflective of the losses suffered.

“As I have stated previously, this has been an extremely difficult period in my life and I am pleased that I can now try and put the matter behind me.”

The statement from FrontRow also revealed that the football club had arranged for Cellino and club secretary Stuart Hayton to have equality training.

Paragraph 49 of the Reserved Judgement read: “The Tribunal recognised that because of the amendment to section 124(3) of the 2010 Act it was not appropriate to make any recommendation about equality training. However, it is encouraged to note that the Respondent had arranged for all of its senior staff, including Mr Cellino and Mr Hayton, to undertake such training on 13 July 2016 as part of the Football League initiative.”

Earlier this year, Leeds’ assistant manager Nigel Gibbs was awarded damages in the High Court after the club removed him from first team duties.

Gibbs claimed his employer had demoted him and that this was a fundamental breach of his employment contract.


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