Trainee who accused boss of ‘mansplaining’ loses unfair dismissal case

'I do not appreciate mansplaining on dress codes'

Trainee who accused boss of ‘mansplaining’ loses unfair dismissal case

An employment tribunal in London has dismissed the claims of a former KPMG trainee who said she was harassed, discriminated against based on her race, and dismissed unfairly by the firm.

Zhihui Lu had been working as a trainee accountant at KPMG for three years before she was dismissed for gross misconduct, which included an incident with a male boss who asked her to wear office-appropriate clothing.

Read more: Do you know gross misconduct when you see it?

Lu purportedly asked the manager “who was he as a man to be telling her what she can and cannot wear?” – before revealing to him the strap of her bra, the tribunal heard. 

In a subsequent email to the manager, Lu wrote: “I do not appreciate mansplaining on dress codes. Bras are clothing. May I know if I am able to expense winter clothing ... to ensure that I dress to your desired taste?”

In a separate incident, the trainee – who supposedly missed out on a possible promotion – shared with a senior manager that she should have slept with one of the partners to get the job.

Other behavioural issues were taken into account. On at least two occasions, the trainee reportedly commented on her colleagues’ appearance, calling one senior member “the bald partner” and telling another that they “looked terrible”.

Read more: Should HR step away from misconduct investigations?

Lu had also been advised by staff not to take more than her fair share of food during a work lunch.

“On at least one occasion that day she was very rude to staff stating she was going to take the food notwithstanding their protestations,” the tribunal learned.

After her dismissal from the firm in late 2018, Lu reportedly posted a video on YouTube in an attempt to take a jab at her former employer. In a parody song, based on the work of YouTuber PewDiePie, Lu claimed “you need a billion Caucasians” to beat “one [Singaporean] gal”.

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