‘Busty blonde’ email lawyers face lawsuit

Sued for sex and race discrimination

Two London lawyers face a lawsuit over an email in which one of them asked for a 'busty blonde' as a replacement for their black secretary.

The case, which could be the first in the UK to establish if an email is grounds for a discrimination claim, involves an email sent hours after the woman announced her resignation.

"Can we go for a real fit busty blonde this time? She can't be any more trouble and at least it would provide some entertainment!" wrote solicitor Adam Dowdney in the email, today's Independent reports.

Dowdney would have got away with it if the woman hadn't accidentally read the email. She then complained to the head of personnel at law firm Charles Russell.

The two lawyers are now being sued for sex and race discrimination.

The duo tried to make amends to the woman over the email, writing letters of apology and offering to take the woman out to 'chat' about the incident over lunch.

Dowdney called the email a 'senseless and thoughtless joke', while Charles Hopewell, the other lawyer involved - who is also a partner at the firm, described the email as 'a childish joke'. He added that he hoped it would not 'sour a good working relationship'.

But the 32-year-old secretary was so distraught that her doctor had to sign her off work.

The case is due to go before a tribunal next year, and Charles Russell said it would be 'vigorously defending the action'.

The courts currently seem to take a dim view of such cases. Earlier this year John Crook, a recruitment manager at a UK firm, lost his case for unfair dismissal after being sacked for an email in which he called a colleague a 'great shag'.

The tribunal in Bury St Edmunds decided that the comment was not fitting to someone in his position as manager. ®

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