In December 2018 when the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times and BBC first reported on the abuse at UNiDAYS, the then Head of People, Courtney Lynch promised to hold an independent and transparent enquiry, with witnesses (employees and ex-employees) being anonymous and protected. She said that law firm Hill Dickinson would lead the enquiry.
Within three weeks she had suddenly left the company and recently promoted chairman Matt Atkinson took over handling the enquiry.
Hill Dickinson interviewed dozens of people about the wrongdoings at the company. Finally in April, despite Hill Dickinson saying they finalised the report in February, UNiDAYS chairman Matt Atkinson (also on the board of so-called “ethical” company the Co-op) held at a company-wide presentation at which he claimed that the firm had found no evidence of “systemic” wrongdoing.
We know that is simply not true.
One brave former employee has been in touch to give us her story. She gave this story to Hill Dickinson as well. There are many more similar stories. It was a typical incident that happened to many girls. She was forced to leave and sign an NDA not to talk about what had happened, a process that happened again and again with other young women.
Today she says: “I am in a better place now. If what happened to me is the worst thing that happened – well, it was really upsetting for me, but Josh hasn’t raped anyone, he’s just a dick. But if anything worse *has* happened, and my story helps to get vindication for them, then I am happy to help. After it happened, I was in quite serious shock, quite unwell because of distress.”
Here it is in her own words:
“I worked at UNiDAYS for a short period a few years ago. Having come from the client side, I was shocked at how little regard they had for the brands they were working with.
“The conditions in the office were very strange, with closely monitored lunch breaks (only 30 minutes in a 9-5:30 day), not being allowed deliveries to the office and regularly being shouted at or belittled in front of colleagues. I started hearing rumours about Josh early on. Things like, he put his hands up a girl’s skirt on a night out and she slapped him. It was always outside of the office.
“Complaints were made to the other senior staff (specially Andrew Bullock), but they refused to do anything about it, probably because Josh was funding their business. It finally happened to me on a night out to which Josh showed up uninvited. He was harassing a few of the girls. I was the oldest one there at 25 years old. He put his arm around me and told me to take my top off for him.
“I made a complaint to HR and they were supportive at first, granting me limited sick leave, but it soon turned nasty with me being presented with a settlement agreement and being told my job was not there for me to go back to. The settlement agreement included an NDA.
“After I left, I started working for another of their clients. Knowing how badly they were ripping us off, I started to make changes, that’s when they contacted my boss to say I was unprofessional and biased against them. I later found out that they were telling clients I had been sacked for under-performance.”
No evidence of wrongdoing? Really? And we know plenty of others who shared similar stories. If there is no evidence of wrongdoing why do UNiDAYS and Hill Dickinson not simply publish the report in full? That is what we demand, along with a complete change of the senior management team.
Take a look at this page to read more about her story, and to look at her transcript and subsequent letters from Hill Dickinson when she requested information about the case.