A WOMAN at the centre of a sexual harassment claim was no cowering wallflower and should have spoken up sooner, a tribunal was told.
Haley Tansey is claiming sexual harassment and constructive dismissal against HBOS for incidents dating back more than 10 years.
The worst, she alleges, happened on a business trip to Cheltenham in 1998 when she woke to find a male colleague, who cannot be named, in her room.
He claims he was invited and Miss Tansey answered the door in her underwear.
Damian McCarthy, for HBOS, said: "This is not a claimant who is a cowering wallflower. This is a woman who was assertive in the workplace, not an individual who was frightened or scared of reporting. It's the claimant who didn't actually believe these were acts of sexual harassment at the time."
He said her claims, which include another male colleague trying to lick her breasts on a works night out at Barracuda bar, Halifax, were "exaggerated, embellished and untruthful."
He said she had been inconsistent in her evidence.
Miss Tansey claims she was subjected to sexual remarks and advances from a number of collegues and said she had to endure a "laddish" culture at the firm.
Ceri Widdet, for Tansey, said complaints had been made and slammed the company for failing to protect her. She pointed to "the total lack of a proper investigation."
"She did complain to numerous managers. None of the managers followed the guidance set out. Nobody appreciated how serious the complaints were and there was a wholehearted failure to appreciate just how difficult it can be, especially as a female, to make a complaint of sexual harassment because of the impact it might have on their future career." She said a female manager conducting a grievance appeal "adopted the sterotypical approach the complainant said was responsible for the harassment".
She rejected HBOS allegations that Tansey had embellished her claims for a 604,000 payoff, saying: "To sustain that level of lying over more than 10 years is inconceivable."
The tribunal has retired to consider its verdict.