Sainsbury's cancels 'sexist' staff party

Sainsbury's job losses
Sainsbury's has axed a staff 'rear of the year' competition after complaints that it was sexist.

The company's Ely branch was planning an Oscar-themed joke awards ceremony on 28 February, complete with red carpet and photographer.

Awards were to have been dished out for Sexiest Male, Sexiest Female and Most Blonde Moments, as well as for male and female Rears of the Year.
But when the fiancee of one staff member tweeted that she was uncomfortable about the event, there was a chorus of agreement online. Sharing a photo of the awards categories, she demanded: "Does this leave a bad taste in your mouth too, or have I lost my sense of humour?"

Another local commented: "As daughter of someone who is one of there best employees, I am staggered that they would even consider such ******** in this day and age. I'd rather have staff who are competent than 'sexy' any day."

And one Twitter user commented: "I see @sainsburys is entering the Most Inappropriate Workplace category."

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman has told the BBC that the event was cancelled as soon as the company realised that offence had been caused.

And it sounds as if staff have been given a bit of a talking-to: "We have spoken to the store about their events programme going forward," she added.

In this case, it sounds as if the awards weren't sanctioned - or even known about - by head office. Sometimes, though, racist or sexist staff parties go ahead with the full approval of management.

Late last year, Urban Outfitters was slammed for a 'racist' Christmas party invitation which invited staff to "break out your juttis, kurtas, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem pants".

And at the same time, the University of Sydney axed a Mexican-themed Christmas party that urged all staff to dress up in sombreros and ponchos.

Sometimes, the allegations can be truly extraordinary - as in the case of the New York Parks Department Christmas party in 2012 that apparently involved forcing female staff to strip and pole-dance. That case rumbles on.

But those who think such antics are all just a bit of fun should consider moving to New Zealand. Here, a court ruled two years ago that when a boss attached a 'phallic symbol' to his crotch and rubbed it against an employee, this didn't constitute sexual harassment.

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