Karina Gaspraova, an IT project manager, took legal action against her employer, essDOCS, alleging sexual harassment by Alexander Goulandris, co-director and former CEO of the company.
Gaspraova alleged that Goulandris engaged in inappropriate behavior towards her during online and face-to-face interactions.
In her lawsuit, Gaspraova cited instances in which Goulandris ran her hand through her hair and gave her suggestive looks during a March 2020 work call.
Although the call was work related, Gaspraova interpreted Goulandris’s actions as an attempt to flirt with her.
At a highly publicized employment tribunal in London, Karina made serious allegations of sexual harassment.
Gaspraova claimed that Goulandris’s use of question marks in the emails along with ‘xx’, which she believed to be a kiss, was a secret code for a sexual proposition.
The disputed email involved Goulandris requesting project information, using symbols such as XX, YY and ???? in red to highlight the required details.
Gaspraova interpreted XX as kissing, YY as suggestive of sexual contact, and the question marks as a query about when she would be willing to engage in sexual acts.
Gaspraova further accused Goulandris of renaming a work file with her initials ‘ajg’ as an acronym for ‘A Jumbo Genital’. She claimed that she informed her bosses that she believed Goulandris desired a sexual relationship with her and treated her poorly due to her rejection of her advances.
Gaspraova argued that Goulandris, a wealthy and powerful individual, deliberately refrained from making overt advances in the workplace because he was too smart to do so.
She detailed incidents in which she alleged Goulandris touched her leg under a table and stared at her, causing her discomfort and anxiety.
However, while the court acknowledged the leg touching incident in 2019, it found it to be accidental and harmless.
Numerous other Gaspraova complaints received similar decisions, leading the panel to conclude that her case was based on the misconception of innocent interactions.
Judge Emma Burns dismissed Gaspraova’s sexual harassment claim, emphasizing her skewed perception of everyday events and her tendency to misinterpret innocent interactions as having sinister motives.
Labor judge Emma Burns said: “Our main reasons for rejecting his account of events were that we considered his perception of everyday events to be biased.”
Judge Burns also noted inconsistencies and contradictions in Gaspraova’s testimony, casting doubt on her credibility.
“She demonstrated a tendency to make extraordinary accusations without evidence, and she contradicted herself in a way that could not be attributed to a fallible memory.”
“Ms. Gasparova interpreted completely innocent work-related conduct, some of it accidental, on the part of Mr. Goulandris as having a sinister intent.”
As a result, Gaspraova was ordered to pay a substantial sum of £5,000 in costs to essDOCS, dealing a financial blow to her case. The ruling highlights the importance of substantiated evidence and credible testimony in allegations of sexual harassment.
(For the latest trends, keep reading TIT Education)