"it's like an open invitation to be getting raped"
A Sky employee will not get his job back after making rape comments despite winning his unfair dismissal case.
Raja Minhas, aged 44, who worked as a retail advisor in Blackburn, made the comments on June 6, 2019, after seeing two teenage girls walk past the shop.
He had told his colleague, Mia Klemetti, that “girls in general who wear skirts like that and then get raped, it’s their own fault”.
This sparked a heated row between the two with Klemetti saying she would “rethink” what she would wear when working with him again.
Minhas was fired for the comments but sought his old job back.
He told investigators: “I saw two girls walking past, both girls were dressed inappropriately.
“You could see the outline of their bodies.
“I mentioned that if this were Pakistan, people would be looking and it’s like an open invitation to be getting raped.”
He later said he thought the conversation with Klemetti was simply an exchange between two colleagues and he “regretted” upsetting her.
A complaint was then made to his bosses and in an interview, Minhas said that his comment had been a “momentary lapse of judgement”.
Despite saying that this would not be repeated and that he regretted it, he added:
“If girls dress like that, sick people might take advantage.”
During her interview, Klemetti said that she believed a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants.
“No-one should be talking about rape on the basis that it is someone’s fault because of what they wear.”
Klemetti confirmed that the exchange had upset her but said that the claimant was “not a bad guy” and was entitled to his opinion.
Minhas was described as “contrite, apologetic, and full of remorse” but was dismissed for gross misconduct and ‘violating common decency’.
Earlier in 2021, a tribunal judge ruled that the dismissal was unfair.
Speaking after the verdict, Minhas, of Nelson, Lancashire said he would be seeking his old job back at a remedy hearing.
However, in papers that have recently been published, he was told that this was “not a practical solution”.
Employment Judge Mr Robinson said:
“It is not practicable to reinstate or have the claimant re-engaged by the respondent, his remedy must be monetary compensation.”
He added that any compensation must be ‘uplifted’ by 25 per cent because of breaches to the ACAS code but reduced by 33% because of the claimant’s “contributory fault”.
Both Sky and Minhas were asked to raise any issues in relation to awarding a “week’s pay”.
Speaking after the original verdict, Minhas said:
“At the moment I don’t want to say much. But I am pleased with what the tribunal has done in ruling in my favour.
“The main thing was to show that Sky made it out to be exaggerated which was disappointing.
“It was something that was not nice and I am pleased it has been put right.”
He said he had been hopeful of getting his old job back – but declined to comment after the latest ruling.
Returning his original verdict, Mr Robinson said:
“The claimant made a foolish remark in the context of a discussion with Ms Klemetti about people’s dress generally.
“The claimant had strong views about the issue and he expressed them in forceful terms to his work colleague and she vociferously opposed them.
“The conversation was ten to fifteen minutes long and became heated.
“He came to regret it when he realised that the matter was being taken seriously.
“Up to that point, he thought that he was having an informal chat, which would be taken no further.”
The judge said the dismissal was unfair as the two colleagues were talking to each other and not to any member of the public or indeed any other Sky employee.
He said Klemetti herself did not complain and, when giving evidence to the tribunal she did not believe it would go as far as it did.
However, he added: “The claimant was guilty of some misconduct because Klemetti did feel that she would not dress in a certain way in front of the claimant.
“This was a heated argument between two people who had two different views of how people should dress in public.
“The incident did not require the claimant to be dismissed and such a sanction in all the circumstances of this case is outside the band of reasonable responses.
“Mr Minhas never condoned rape. He had a view as to how a certain kind of dress might affect the way some men may behave.
“Much was made by the respondent witnesses about the possibility that Sky’s brand would be damaged.
“That was an improbable outcome.
“The discussion between the claimant and Ms Klemetti was a private one.”