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Businesswoman paid less than male colleagues wins £24,000

Amy Arnold (pictured) repeatedly raised the issue of pay with bosses at UK Power Networks, who ignored her for 18 months

A businesswoman paid less than male colleagues and who lost out on promotion to a less qualified man has won a £24,000 sex discrimination payout.

Procurement specialist Amy Arnold, 27 became aware she was being paid less than her male colleagues after she started work at UK Power Networks.

She raised the issue, but for 18 months her bosses constantly dodged any decision to deny her a rise.

Ms Arnold was told she needed to pass exams that would make her more qualified than her immediate bosses and hit certain performance criteria.

After doing both with no increase in salary she applied for a promotion, but lost out to a less experienced man after she became a ‘thorn in the side’ of bosses.

So she took the firm to an employment tribunal, claiming sex discrimination and victimisation for making a complaint about her pay.

She settled with the firm based in East Anglia, where she still works, for £24,000 compensation.

The Norwich Employment Tribunal also ordered that all members of the firm’s procurement team undergo equality training.

The cash award covered injury to feelings, loss of opportunity and interest.

Ms Arnold started her £35,000 job as a category specialist in April 2014, responsible for management of procurement.

In December 2014, she found out she was not being paid in line with her male colleagues.

A month later, she raised her concerns about pay, including about colleagues who were ‘seemingly less capable’ but on better packages.

Ms Arnold wrote: ‘While I appreciate that everyone has negotiated their individual salaries when joining the business 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.’

She was told her salary would be increased but she would have to pass more exams, but by June 2015 she had completed two yet ‘heard nothing’.

She was also leading a sub team, and felt her role had progressed but the salary issue was still unresolved.

The Norwich Employment Tribunal (pictured) ordered that all members of the firm's procurement team undergo equality training

The Norwich Employment Tribunal (pictured) ordered that all members of the firm’s procurement team undergo equality training

In their judgement, the employment tribunal said that by December 2015, a male comparator with less experience and qualifications was earning at various times between £800 and £3,000 more.

Judge Robin Postle said there appeared to be ‘little justification for this pay disparity’.

In March 2016 she was told her salary would rise to £40,000 after passing another exam.

Two months later she was told it would rise to £40,000 if targets were achieved at mid year performance review.

Judge Postle said ‘the goal posts appear to have been moved yet again’.

Ms Arnold was told she would get a rise in July 2016, having achieved her targets, but was not told when.

The judge said: ‘The claimant had raised the issue of male graduates who were earning more despite being less experienced and qualified.’

Ms Arnold was awarded a mid term pay increase to £39,167, but still not the £40,000 promised given she had fully qualified.

In September 2016, staff were told of a job vacancy for tactical procurement lead.

The judge said the email ‘oddly’ stated: ‘There is no predetermined result with this vacancy.’

Ms Arnold was shortlisted alongside two male and a female internal candidates.

But the job went to a man who was ‘clearly’ less experienced and it was inferred to her ‘she only wanted the position because of the salary and that was all that she was focused on’.

A grievance meeting took place in January 2017, and Ms Arnold was offered £42,000 and told an investigation had been completed.

But Judge Postle said: ‘The suggested full investigation seems a sham.’

He concluded: ‘The goal posts were changed. The claimant was clearly perceived as a thorn in their side and when the job vacancy came about she clearly was not going to be preferred under any circumstances.’

Judge Postle said: ‘It is also surprising that a senior manager when announcing a job vacancy would then put in an email for all to see that, “there is no predetermined candidate”.’

She was ‘clearly seen as a nuisance’, and ‘frankly never stood a chance of an equal playing field’ in the interview, he added. 

Ms Arnold said: ‘I hope my case shows other people who are suffering from sex discrimination at work that it can be tackled.

‘They are not alone and should not suffer in silence. Every case that is heard and won is a success for anyone who knows the pain of suffering discrimination for something that is completely out of their control.

‘This issue must continue to be addressed.’