A former HR boss at Network Rail has received £500,000 in an out-of-court settlement after she accused a senior executive of sex and racial discrimination.
Vicky Lydford, the rail giant’s former head of HR (national functions), received the offer on the day she was due to meet her former employer in court, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Lydford said the executive had been accused of a string of offences, including referring to women in his department as “blonde honeys”, calling a black, female employee “a silly f***ing black bitch” and dismissing a female employee who he knew to be undergoing IVF treatment.
Lydford claims to have been the victim of sex discrimination on the part of the executive when she challenged his behaviour. She said “his disdain for employment law generally” was well known.
As many as 100 Network Rail staff are said to have received pay-offs after signing confidentiality clauses that stop them from speaking publically about their reasons for leaving.
Three senior employees are thought to have been paid between £450,000 and £850,000.
Many of the claims allegedly centred on the behaviour of the same senior executive at the publicly funded company.
Labour MP Jim Devine said in a Commons debate: “If the company uses public money to ensure the allegations never see the light of day, that is surely a matter for the Commons and the Minister [of Transport].” He also referred to Network Rail’s “culture of fear and bullying”.
An internal investigation upheld claims that the executive behaved inappropriately and made ‘politically incorrect’ comments. Network Rail said that no action was necessary as the executive had not acted “maliciously”, and because he had a good overall record.