Sex discrimination claim places Capita in the dock

One
of the country’s leading occupational health professionals is suing one of the UK’s
foremost health providers for constructive dismissal, sex discrimination and
equal pay.

Sharon
Horan, who was previously director of nursing at Aon Health Services, suffered ‘a culture of sexist
behaviour and treatment’ that excluded women, the London
tribunal heard.

The
experience had left her with severe clinical depression, she said.

Horan
told the tribunal that her former line manager, Dr Alister Scott, and colleague Stuart Cooper, would
visit gay bars together, fostering a ‘male cabal’ that excluded women.

She
alleges that, while in a taxi on the way to a presentation, Scott also asked
her if she was just there ‘for decoration’.

In
April this year, Horan claims that she was omitted from a new organisation
chart, having already been excluded from a
senior management meetings
the previous September. Horan said
that this amounted to constructive dismissal.

Cooper,
a nurse manager, also received more money than her, despite being on a lower
pay grade and reporting to her, it is alleged.

Lawyer
Gillian Howard, representing Horan, said her client was seeking reinstatement
and compensation for financial loss and injury to feelings, as well as arrears
of pay for inequality in salary.

She
also said that Horan was seeking aggravated damages for the manner in which
Capita dealt with her complaints.

Capita,
which took over Aon Health
Services in April, denies the allegations. The full hearing will begin on 11 April 2005.

By
Michael Millar

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