Radio boss ‘wanted staff to be blonde, have big boobs and blue eyes’

Dawn Carney, a former commercial director of Star Radio
Dawn Carney, a former commercial director of Star Radio
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A FORMER radio station commercial director is taking the firm to an employment tribunal, claiming her boss wanted new recruits to be like her - “to be blonde, have big boobs and blue eyes”.

Dawn Carney, 37, is claiming unfair dismissal and sexual harassment against the then managing director of Darlington-based Star Radio John Clayton and its parent firm, UK RD Group.

She has told a tribunal in Newcastle that Mr Clayton made a series of sexist and inappropriate remarks about women during the two months they worked together before she was sacked last March.

Ms Carney, from Ingleby Barwick, Stockton, Teesside, said she changed her hair colour after leaving the firm which she had joined in July 2013, six months before Mr Clayton arrived.

In her statement of claim, she said Mr Clayton had told her she did not “look as good” as she did on her Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

She said: “This clearly made me feel extremely uncomfortable as I did not and I still do not understand how that was appropriate or at all relevant to the excellent job I was doing.”

Mr Clayton would comment on her outfits and whether he liked them, she claimed.

He liked the neckscarves she wore as they reminded him of air hostesses, she stated.

Ms Carney, who has left the media and runs a boutique in Yarm, said he would make sexist comments about women being “better at cleaning” and their role was “best at home”.

In her statement of claim, she said when he discussed recruitment strategy, Mr Clayton said he wanted the team to look like her.

Her statement continued: “He took the comments further by requesting that the new recruits be ‘blonde, have big boobs and blue eyes’.

“He added that this worked in the ‘good old days and they should make sure it happened here’.

“Clearly these comments made me feel extremely uncomfortable and I did not like him talking about my appearance in this way.”

She said she challenged his views on women and told him as a single mother, she had a great career.

She needed hospital treatment for a kidney complaint and the following week she was told to leave “with immediate effect”. When she asked why, she was told “performance”.

Ms Carney said the radio station had a poor reputation when she joined, was struggling with bad PR and she was hired to help save it.

Soon after joining she learned the station was playing an advert which said staff were being given a present by the then managing director and that she had been given a “peal necklace”.

In her statement of claim, she said she did not understand until a colleague pointed out it was slang for a sexual act.

“In my view this was completely inappropriate,” she said in her claim. Eventually it was taken off air after she complained.

During the tribunal hearing, she said her claim was not motivated by money.

Asked by the chairman what outcome she wanted, her voice cracked with emotion as she said: “My life has completely been affected for the last six months, I have lost my hair, I have been through a stressful time.

“I want to make sure maybe eventually I am compensated for what has happened, but that is not (the only reason) why.”

The respondents do not accept her claims and the hearing continues.

Ex-sales executive Karen Riley said she was the subject of an advert which referred to her having “nice tatas” after she left for a rival station.

In a statement she said she was informed Star Radio had written, recorded and broadcast an advert which said TFM had “chosen a ‘hot chic with nice tatas’ but I had not sold anything while I was there”.

Her statement said: “I could not believe what I was hearing.”

She complained about the inappropriate language and the claim she had not sold anything.

She told the hearing: “I think it is just showing what everyday sexism was like there.”