John Robinson, founder and chairman of Jigsaw and the man who gave Kate Middleton her first job, is being sued by former employee Kate Torpey for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal. Torpey held various positions at Jigsaw’s parent company Robinson Webster Holdings and claims that the company and Robinson twice overlooked her for the role of chief financial officer for the group after she became pregnant.
Following her second period of maternity leave in 2010, Torpey states that an email sent by Robinson to his replacement chief executive Des Swan “shows that John equated motherhood with reduced commitment and so had a dismissive attitude towards me.”
Robinson argues that Torpey “did not have the appropriate skills to be considered for the position of group CFO of the company” since at least 2009. He noted that Kew, a subsidiary of Robinson Webster which Torpey managed, had not made a profit during her four year tenure as managing director.
Torpey joined the company as financial control assistant in 1996 and was made managing director of Kew in 2004. She resigned from the role in 2011 having previously taken time off for stress.
A decision is expected from the tribunal next month.