A contract cleaning manager was forced to resign after being bullied by her new boss for two months, a tribunal heard.

Susan Thewlis, area manager for Regent Office Care Ltd, claimed regional manager Ian McDermid made her life a misery, treating her badly because she was a woman.

Mrs Thewlis, of Iveagh Crescent, Newhaven, is claiming compensation for constructive dismissal and sex discrimination.

She told a Brighton employment tribunal she suspected he wanted her to resign so a friend of his could take her job.

Mrs Thewlis, whose husband still works for the company, said she enjoyed her job and had looked on Mr McDermid as a friend until he became her boss in February.

She dismissed warnings from female colleagues that he was difficult to work with but, she claimed, she immediately noticed a change in his attitude towards her as soon as he was promoted.

Mrs Thewlis, now cleaning manager at Seaford Head Community College, said he repeatedly rang her while she was with customers at commercial sites and accused her of failing to do her job properly.

She said: "The telephone calls to my mobile became increasingly frequent and abusive.

"Everything I did was wrong. He was always completely putting me down. My morale was so low. He made my work intolerable.

"The situation bought me close to tears and I could not work for him any longer. Every phone call to me was nasty. The man never spoke to me nicely. He was rude."

She claimed her complaints about him were ignored and her request to be moved to another department was refused.

Regent Office Care, based in Haslemere, Surrey, denies treating Mrs Thewlis unfairly.

It claims managers were shocked and surprised when she resigned in April because she had made no formal complaints.

During cross-examination Mrs Thewlis denied "harping on" about Mr McDermid's private life or being prejudiced against gay people.

Managing director Colin Russ said he hoped she could be persuaded to stay. He told her: "None of us wanted you to go."

He said the majority of Mr McDermid's managers were female and the firm was unaware of any problems with women employees.

The case was adjourned until January 10.