Port Vale found guilty of discrimination at tribunal
Joanne Clay, aged 33, started a legal case after the club sacked her from her job as event sales manager over rumours of an affair with former striker and club captain Marc Richards.
Despite denying the affair, Miss Clay was sacked by the club, although no action was taken against Richards.
She was also told the club had a strict rule that female staff must not have relationships with players.
After winning her sex discrimination case against the club, and a claim for sexual harassment, she can now expect a hefty pay-out.
The tribunal ruled it was ‘striking’ that while she was suspended, investigated and then dismissed over the rumours, ‘no action whatsoever was taken’ against the player.
It also found that Port Vale’s ban on relationships between employees and footballers was ‘a rule slanted against women’.
The tribunal found Port Vale and Azure Support Services Ltd, the company through which Miss Clay was employed, guilty of sex discrimination in relation to her dismissal and harassment by the club’s former sales manager Chris Bedding.
The panel said a man would not have been treated in the same way. Miss Clay’s compensation will be set at hearing in March.
Richards, who played for Port Vale between 2007 and 2012, is now with Northampton Town.
The club refused to comment on the decision - but it should be noted that the events ocuured prior to the club going into administration in 2012 and had nothing to do with current owner and Chairman Norman Smurthwaite who acquired the club a year later.