THE conduct of a former Burton Albion worker has been described as ‘not normal’ by the team’s manager.
Gary Rowett said Kerry Miller’s behaviour in going into the dressing room when players were changing, and flirting with members of the squad made him and other members of the squad ‘uncomfortable’.
However, he refuted claims her actions caused divisions in the team, and said he had not been sufficiently concerned to make enquiries or take further action.
Mr Rowett told an employment tribunal: “I have never come across a situation where a woman has been down where the players are. This is not normal, and whilst maybe some of the players were not too worried, some people felt very uncomfortable.
“In 24 years as a footballer, coach and manager, I have never been aware of a woman in the dressing rooms.
“As a male, I would never walk into a female dressing room, regardless of what I wanted.”
The tribunal, which is dealing with claims of sexual discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal brought against the club, has been told that Ms Miller, a widowed mother of three, went into the dressing rooms ‘around 15 times’ during the course of her employment, often when players were naked. But the 45-year-old former sales and marketing worker says she went in only four times - with good reason - and that she had not been told beforehand that the area was out of bounds.
When she was asked not to do it, she stopped, Ms Miller told the panel earlier in the week.
She faced harassment and victimisation during her time with the club, because of rumours about dealings with players in her private life, she claims.
“I don’t know what their issue was with me,” she said.
The tribunal also heard that she was the butt of ‘blonde’ jokes, which left her hurt and upset. Chairman Ben Robinson and secretary Fleur Robinson deny using the term in a negative way.
Ms Miller, who had a relationship with a former player and exchanged sexually explicit pictures with another, was rumoured to be carrying on an affair with another player.
She resigned in February last year, after she was reprimanded ‘aggressively’ by club chairman Ben Robinson for fraternising with players when she should have been doing her own work. She said it was the final straw after months of ill treatment.
She was left ‘visibly distressed’ by the chairman’s over-bearing conduct, which, she said, left her fearing for her employment.
James Bruce, counsel for Ms Miller, said: “Mr Robinson’s actions were based on the impression he had and the assumption that the rumours he had heard were true.”
Ms Miller said she did not feel she could complain to anybody about her treatment during her time at the club, which ran from autumn 2011 to February 2013.
A decision by the tribunal panel is due tomorrow.