Harassment ‘boys in the pharmacy talking’

A British pharmacist has been suspended for nine months after he admitted inappropriate behaviour towards two colleagues

The behaviour included stroking one woman’s leg and asking her if she would watch pornography with him, and filming another on his laptop webcam.

Imran Younis, a director and shareholder in MedPharm Ventures (trading as Pharmacy4Homes) and based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, initially denied the allegations.

But this month he filed an amended statement of defence in which he admitted all allegations – though he continued to deny that his actions were sexually motivated.

Mr Younis appeared before the UK’s General Pharmaceutical Council this month, following complaints by Ms X, a pharmacy assistant who had worked with him between June and September 2013, and Ms Y, a locum pharmacist who worked at Pharmacy4Homes between August 2014 and February 2015.

“The complaints made by both Ms X and Ms Y, and which constitute the allegations against the Registrant, relate to what they claim were inappropriate comments and conduct that was sexually motivated, and constituted an abuse of the Registrant’s position,” the GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee noted.

Allegations proven included asking Ms X if she visited strip clubs; repeatedly staring at her; and telling her that he could not complete work because she was a “distraction”.

“Further allegations found proven were that the Registrant tried to kiss Ms X on the pharmacy premises; that he stroked Ms X’s leg whilst they were travelling in a car together; that he told Ms X that a love song reminded him of her, and made suggestive comments in relation to the lyrics of a song.

“It was also found proven that the Registrant told Ms X that she had only been employed because the Registrant liked her. It was also found proven that the Registrant asked Ms X if she would like to watch pornography with him.”

Mr Younis claimed that he had “misinterpreted signals that weren’t there” and that his actions had been “affectionate,” rather than being “sexually aggressive gropes”.

In relation to the attempted kiss, he said this was a “miscalculation or a misjudgement” and had not been planned.

“Subsequent texts exchanged with Ms X whereby she stated that she was shocked and wished to put the kissing incident behind her, were met with a comment by the Registrant that this was ‘a shame’.

“Under cross examination, the Registrant agreed that he found Ms X attractive, and that he wanted Ms X to ‘like him back’. He agreed that ‘he fancied her’, and that he was ‘flirting with her’, through his comments and actions.”

He claimed Ms X was distracting because she required a lot of supervision, and that the leg-stroking incident had been “a friendly touch”.

Ms X said she felt shocked and disrespected after Mr Younis tried to kiss her, that she had felt trapped when he stroked her leg and that the only way she could cope with his comments about strip clubs and pornography was to ignore them.

She said she felt like a “piece of meat” and professionally demeaned when he claimed she was only employed because he liked her.

In relation to Ms Y, the locum pharmacist, it was proven that Mr Younis had asked a work colleague “how long it would take him to ‘come’” if Ms Y was filmed on a webcam, and told the colleague that for him it would take a few seconds.

It was also found proven that Mr Younis told a colleague that “I’d get her, rag her senseless, even if I had to drag her with him”.

He said he was “trying to get” Ms Y and “would not stop trying until he did”.

He characterised these comments as “boys in the pharmacy talking”.

“He admitted, and it was found proved, that he had filmed Ms Y on the webcam of his laptop computer. He stated that whilst it was a reference to masturbating whilst looking at an attractive woman, he had no intention of actually carrying such an act through, and the comments were intended only to be ‘playing to the gallery’ for effect,” the committee noted.

“The Registrant stated that the comments, which he regretted, were crude and were sexual in nature, but were not an indication that he intended to carry through any of the comments into real action.

“It was further found proven, that the Registrant had stated to a delivery driver colleague that they ‘should get Ms Y a nurse’s uniform, as she would look good in it’.”

Ms Y said that she did not feel safe working with Mr Younis and that there was no reason to film her, and the fact that he had made her very uncomfortable.

She said the comments about the nurse’s uniform were “pervie” and “made in a dirty way,” and that eventually, she felt she could not enter her place of work if she saw Mr Younis’ car in the car park.

The Committee found that the behaviours were sexually motivated.

The General Pharmaceutical Council submitted that the conduct found proven against Mr Younis was “dishonourable and disgraceful, and brings the profession of pharmacy into disrepute”.

His registration was suspended for nine months, after which the sanction will be reviewed and Mr Younis will be expected to demonstrate insight into his conduct, “so that he can persuade a subsequent Committee that he has due regard to others, and does not see his conduct through his own prism alone, so that the Council, and the public, can be persuaded that there is no realistic prospect of this conduct being ever repeated, and that colleagues will be properly respected, and professional boundaries observed.”

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