Prospect helps member settle sexual harassment claim at National Highways

3 July 2023

Prospect’s Legal Team recounts how they have recently helped a member, who suffered horrendous sexual harassment at work, to settle her claim for a five-figure sum.

Julie Thackray was employed as a Traffic Officer by National Highways for more than six years. In 2020, she raised a grievance in respect of harassment by colleagues owing to her dyslexia and raised concerns that there was a culture of sexism in her team. Her grievance was upheld.

Following this, between December 2020 and September 2021, a colleague made several abusive and threatening comments, directed at Julie, on Microsoft Teams. This culminated in an altercation in July 2021, where this colleague approached Julie in a challenging and aggressive manner. Julie did not feel supported by her line manager, who witnessed the incident and as a result, she went off sick with work-related stress and anxiety and raised a grievance.

During the grievance process, further evidence of sexist behaviour became apparent including sexist comments being made on MS Teams group messages between colleagues. NH had been the subject of an inquiry by the ECHR on a previous occasion, but this appeared to have had little effect.

The employer took many months to investigate and pursue disciplinary action and to deal with her grievance. During that time, Julie remained on sick leave and left her employment at the end of April 2023. She felt unable to return to her role, as she did not feel safe to return.

Julie approached Prospect for support and a claim was lodged in the Employment Tribunal in November 2021 for sexual harassment. In May 2023, her claim was settled for a five-figure sum.

On her case, Julie said:

“I want to personally thank Prospect and the Legal Team. I have received excellent service from the start of my claim to settlement. I am really pleased with the result.  I cannot thank Nick Radiven and Linda Sohowan enough for believing in me. It has been a long process and there were many moments where I was tempted to stop the process.

“National Highways treated me extremely badly by not dealing with my situation fairly, effectively, or in a timely manner. I found the strength to continue as I did not want anyone else to go through what I had. You all have been amazing, and I can’t say how much I appreciate all the hard work.”

Nick Radiven, Prospect Negotiations Officer, said, “No-one should have to experience the harassment Julie suffered. Julie was very brave in coming forward to challenge this unacceptable behaviour. I hope NH will now learn from what has happened and make sure there is zero tolerance towards discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”

Linda Sohawon, Prospect Legal Officer, said, “Prospect strives to ensure that workplaces are free from harassment and will challenge harassment when it does occur. I am pleased that there was a positive outcome in Julie’s case.”


Prospect has members working in aviation, road, rail and maritime transportation, as well as regulation and research.