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The John Lewis harassment case

Maybe I have this all wrong. It could be that Mr Konstantinos Kalomoiris will one day join the Tolpuddle Martyrs in the pantheon of those who have fought for the rights of working people. Perhaps Billy Bragg will strum an anthem in his honour and the trade unions will stitch his likeness to their gaily-coloured banners; and perhaps a street will be named after him in Islington and a plaque will be unveiled in Transport House, complete with a fiery speech by Tony Benn or Mr Tristram Hunt MP. Perhaps all future members of the British labour force – including my own grandchildren – will give thanks that Mr Konstantinos Kalomoiris decided he could take it no more.

After three slaps on the bottom he took a stand, on behalf of himself and his entire gender. No matter that the bottom-patter (alleged) had worked for 40 years for the firm, with an “unblemished record”. Never mind that she was a 68-year-old woman, who insisted that she had only “touched his back in a caring way, like a mother or grandmother”.

Mr Kalomoiris, 40, has sued the company, John Lewis – a notably tender-hearted employer – for sexual discrimination and harassment; and, as I say, my instincts could be completely out of whack. This could turn out to be a ground-breaking case in the advancement of workers’ rights against the unfeeling boss class. But I sincerely doubt it. It sounds to me like a perfect indication of the levels of barminess now being attained by our system of employment tribunals. The hearing continues, it says at the bottom of the reports, and my first thought is how mad, how incredible it is that this poor man’s grievance – whatever it really is – has come to court.

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