A woman estate agent who says she was sacked from her job as a negotiator after she complained of sexual harassment has claimed that the commission-based payment structure in the industry makes abuse by senior managers more likely.
Joy (not her real name) said: “I think it is the sort of job where it gives a male manager the opportunity to abuse if that’s what they want to do, because normally the manager distributes the leads.
“With the pay structure of people being so heavily commissioned, the pressure to impress your boss is there, so I don’t know how that can change.”
Joy who, with her husband, now runs her own estate agency, was in her early forties when she lost her job.
She told the Huffington Post that a male manager asked to speak to her one day in a room in the office.
When they were alone, she says: “He grabbed me for a full crotch hug and then … he held my face and kissed both my cheeks.”
Although the manager’s actions made her feel very “uncomfortable”, she says “the company’s actions were worse”.
She says that there was a “very old boys network culture” at her workplace and was concerned that this man had “access to all these really young negotiators” – most of whom were female.
“He would just come into the office … and grab a very young negotiator next to me and give her kisses on each cheek and I just thought he is strolling into every office in the company and just doing that to women on a pretext of being friendly,” she told the publication.
She believes that his actions towards women in the offices amounted to a “complete power play”.
She complained to the company’s management team and was assured that she would not be alone with the manager again. However, within three weeks she was sacked. She believes the two incidents were related, as she had been doing well at work.
As she had been employed for under a year, she did not feel she could challenge the decision. She said she had not felt like a victim when the original ‘groping’ incident happened, but that the company’s reaction “then victimised me”.
She went on to find a job with another agent, but her confidence was badly affected. Every Sunday for six months she would cry at the thought of going into work the next day.
She said she lived in fear of being asked to go into a room for a chat with the boss and then being sacked for no reason.