Leeds Utd loses sex discrimination case

Media captionLucy Ward said ‘her name had been cleared’ after the tribunal

A Leeds United employee has won her case for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against the club.

Lucy Ward claimed she was sacked because she was former head coach Neil Redfearn’s partner.

Ms Ward, who worked as the club’s education and welfare officer, travelled to Canada to work as a BBC pundit at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

The club, which denied any wrongdoing, claimed she was sacked for exceeding her annual leave entitlement.

At the tribunal, employment judge Stephen Keevash said, on the balance of probabilities, club chairman Massimo Cellino told then club executive director Adam Pearson that Ms Ward had to leave the club.

There were no grounds to disbelieve Ms Ward’s testimony concerning her application for time off to commentate for the BBC, the judge added.

‘Club I love dearly’

Speaking outside the hearing, held in Leeds city centre, Ms Ward said her “name had been cleared”.

“I spent 17 years building up a really good reputation at Leeds for it to be destroyed by the current ownership,” she said.

“It’s a club that I love dearly and I’m very proud to have been a part of Leeds United and all of the lads I have looked after.”

She added: “I look forward to the rest of my career, hopefully back into football.”

Ms Ward, who worked in the club’s academy, had previously told her managers about her BBC analyst work with their “full support”, the tribunal heard.

Leeds United claimed Ms Ward “repeatedly failed to work on a Wednesday”, but she responded she worked from home on that day and her working pattern was “well-known” and agreed with her line manager.

‘Should be in the bedroom’

The hearing previously heard Mr Cellino decided to sack her because she and Mr Redfearn came as “a pair”.

The judge agreed with Ms Ward’s legal team that the club had taken a “sexist” view and ruled the reasons for her dismissal were “a sham”.

Ms Ward earlier told the tribunal she was “treated like a piece of meat” in the way she was dismissed.

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On Monday, the tribunal heard Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino decided to sack Lucy Ward because she and former head coach Neil Redfearn came as “a pair”

Leeds United secretary Stuart Hayton, giving evidence as a witness, said Ms Ward was a strong character who “intimidated” her line manager and “was ruling the roost”.

Judge Keevash said Ms Ward was not aggressive nor disruptive and found her and Mr Redfearn “credible and truthful” witnesses.

He added the former Leeds United executive director Adam Pearson was “evasive” in giving his evidence.

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Employment judge Steven Keevash described Lucy Ward and Neil Redfearn as “credible and truthful” witnesses

The hearing previously heard of an alleged conversation between Mr Cellino and Gary Cooper, the chairman of Leeds Ladies FC.

Ms Ward said she was told by Mr Cooper that Mr Cellino had said to him: “Football is no place for women, they should be in the bedroom or the beauticians.”

Mr Cellino did not give evidence during the tribunal.

A further hearing is due to take place to arrange compensation.

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