A woman has won a sex discrimination case against her Bury St Edmunds employer after being denied equal pay and a promotion.
Procurement specialist Amy Arnold was awarded £24,000 in compensation after a legal battle with UK Power Networks.
An employment tribunal ruled that she was the victim of ‘direct discrimination’ after her employer ‘constantly moved the goal posts’ over a pay increase to make her salary equal to that of her male colleagues.
When interviewed for a promotion, she ‘never stood a chance of an equal playing field’ and a man less qualified and less experienced than her was given the job.
Following the tribunal, UK Power Networks agreed to train all members of its procurement team in equality legislation.
The case was heard in Norwich in October and November and the judgement was published last Friday.
Miss Arnold, 27, of Red Lodge, said: “I still feel very disappointed I had to go through 18 months of trying to resolve the issue amicably.
“I’m really pleased I did take the decision to go to court and I feel like I’ve been totally vindicated. The judge has seen that I was doing nothing wrong and I was being treated unfairly.”
She now works in a different team at UK Power Networks, in Barton Road, Bury.
Asked whether the compensation was enough, she said: “I personally don’t think it was enough to cover what’s happened.
“I didn’t go to the court for the money. It was about the principle I was being treated unfairly but the amount that’s been awarded is nowhere near what I’ve lost. I’ve lost experience from not being given the role that I was the right candidate for.
“I hope they’ve learnt that it isn’t acceptable to treat people unequally because there should be equal pay for equal work and if there’s an incident where someone is treated unequally they should be solving that issue at the start and not making promises they can’t meet.”
The tribunal found that Miss Arnold was ‘subjected to less favourable treatment on the grounds of her sex’ and she was ‘victimised’ for making a complaint about equal pay.
In December 2014, Miss Arnold became aware she was being paid less than her male colleagues, who were doing the same work as her.
She raised the issue with her bosses and noted in an email ‘it doesn’t seem appropriate that these individuals who come to me for guidance and advice on a regular basis are earning a higher wage’.
Over 18 months, she was refused equal pay as management told her she needed more professional qualifications and she then needed to hit certain performance targets in order for her pay to rise from £35,700 to £40,000. However, she was then told that pay wasn’t in the management’s remit.
The tribunal questioned why, if management could not deal with Miss Arnold’s pay, they did not explain that at the start and refer the matter to HR.
Miss Arnold was supported in her case by trade union Prospect.
Jane Copley, Prospect legal officer, said: “We hope this sends a clear message to employers that failing to act on known gender pay issues and victimising employees who raise them is not acceptable, and will not go unchallenged.”
A spokeswoman for UK Power Networks said: “UK Power Networks respects the decision of the employment tribunal and has taken on its findings and recommendations by putting in place a programme of retraining for our employees to ensure our commitment to fairness.”