City banker wins sexism case for unequal pay and victimisation

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A financial product manager for the French bank BNP Paribas has won her case for direct sex discrimination, victimisation and unequal pay.

Stacey Macken claimed she was paid significantly less than her male counterpart with the same job title. When she complained to her employer about her treatment, she was victimised further.

Macken had been employed for eight years at vice-president level in front office prime brokerage at Deutsche Bank. After taking voluntary redundancy she was headhunted for BNP Paribas, but despite her senior status she was hired as a “junior” on a salary of £120,000. A male colleague with the same job title was being paid £160,000.

Within months of joining the London branch of the bank she claimed she experienced sexist behaviour involving one of her bosses, Matthew Pinnock.

One morning Macken arrived at work to find a witch’s hat has been left on her desk. The tribunal heard that “Stacey was visibly upset and confided in me that she felt really uncomfortable working with those male colleagues, knowing that one of them had purposefully gone out of their way to leave a witch’s hat on her desk.”

Another colleague, Denis Pihan, would routinely reply to Macken’s questions with, “Not now, Stacey”. He did it so often that the claimant’s colleagues made sarcastic comments about it.

Over a five-year period a male colleague received about £237,000 in bonuses, while Macken was offered just  £33,000.

Macken first raised a complaint about inequality of pay in 2014 and from that point the tribunal found there was a deterioration in her relationship with her bosses. This culminated in 2017 in a grievance hearing that the tribunal found there was “a failure to get to grips with the real complaint during the grievance process”.

“Far too little regard was given to the fact that the claimant and comparator 1 [her better paid male colleague] had exactly the same job descriptions,” said the judgment. “The evidence given by Mr Pihan and Mr Pinnock was taken at face value without being challenged to any significant extent. Other, potential witnesses who had not been involved in setting the pay but could objectively comment on the respective job roles were not interviewed…

“We consider that the grievance process was really designed to reject the claimant’s complaint. No proper and rigorous investigation of why there was a differential in pay was conducted. We consider that was, at least in part, because the claimant had raised allegations of inequality of pay and bonus. There was a determination to defend the respondent against the allegations rather than investigate them properly. This was victimisation.”

The judgment said that the evidence produced by BNP Paribas, “was not sufficient to persuade us that the claimant’s gender played no part in the setting of her bonuses.

“It was not supported by detailed objective assessment and we consider that the line manager played the key role is fixing bonus. There is ample evidence to infer discrimination on their part that the respondent has failed to rebut to our satisfaction.”

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