Sex discrimination case
Solicitor subjected to sex discrimination awarded over £150,000 compensation.
In Biggs v Bilborough & Co, a solicitor who successfully brought claims of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination in 2020 against her former employer, has now been awarded a total sum of compensation in excess of £150,000 by the Employment Tribunal.
The Claimant was an experienced solicitor specialising in shipping and joined the Respondent in 2004.
During the Claimant’s employment she both witnessed and experienced derogatory remarks that stereotyped women, including a male colleague telling a female in another team to ‘keep her legs shut’ after the Claimant announced her pregnancy. The same male colleague had also inappropriately suggested that the Claimant’s friendship with one of the Respondent’s clients might be because she was a lesbian.
On promotion to Associate Director in 2010, the Claimant was told by her line manager that being a woman she could not be given a particular fleet because of the sexist views of the fleet operator – a prime example of antiquated, sex discrimination in the workplace.
Following promotion the Claimant raised issues with her line manager about the division of work between herself and a male colleague as she felt her workload was heavier. Shortly afterwards the Claimant received internal salary details where she learned that was earning around £2000 a year less her immediate male colleague. On raising the issue the Claimant was told to be careful as raising the issue could be problematic for – this was coupled with a warning that she should not ask to work from home as this would set a negative precedent within the workplace.
The Claimant was unfairly (and unimaginatively) labelled as ‘pushy’, ‘overly dominant’ and ‘incredibly ambitious’. It was suggested that she should ‘use her charms’ to get on her manager’s good side. The tribunal recognised that such language would not have been aimed at a male employee.
On raising a grievance the Claimant was dismissed with immediate effect. The Respondent asserted that the relationship had broken down. Sensibly, the Tribunal did not agree and held that the real reason for her dismissal were her complaints of sex discrimination and equal pay.
The Claimant was successful in her claims for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, equal pay and victimisation and received compensation of £59,317.33. This considered her equal pay claim and loss of past salary. The award factored in her loss of future earnings and an uplift for the Respondent’s failure to follow the Acas Code of Practice.
Claimant received a further £53,840 as damages for injury to feelings (discrimination award) and agreed interest. After grossing up (to minimise the tax impact) the Respondent was ordered to pay to the Claimant the sum of £151,811.31.
This appears to be a larger than average award but considers the Claimant’s salary and the severity of her claims. She was subjected a sustained campaign of appalling treatment simply because of her sex.
This blog was written by Michael Green, Trainee Solicitor at didlaw.