It would appear that the City of London can still be a tough place for a woman, particularly a bright and highly successful one, as two recently reported tribunal claims show:-
Although the two cases were distinct, there are some interesting similarities in both cases.
- Both were young women – 32 and 42 years old
- Both were working for top City establishments – Troika Group and Oppenheimer Europe
- Both were high earners on six figures salaries
- Both were clever and driven and highly successful, one a trader the other a broker
- Both successfully sued for sex discrimination (including victimisation) and unfair dismissal
- Both were subjected to insidious and casual sexism and derogatory personal comments including being called “miss cokehead” and “Bitch” in communications with clients and senior staff and references to the firm as “Bunga Bunga Securities”.
- Both were treated less favourably than their male counterparts at work because of their sex
- Both succeeded in their claims and are likely to receive substantial unlimited compensation
- Both hired Lawyers to represent and advise them
Despite The Equality Act 2010 and the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it appears Sex(ism) in the City still exists, although to what extent may always remain unclear given that the majority of tribunal claims settle before a hearing.
There are many steps employers can take to limit claims of Sex discrimination by employees:-
- Have an Equal Opportunities (EO) Policy which is actively followed and enforced by the company
- Provide regular EO training for managers and staff
- Carry out workplace diversity monitoring
- Comply with the EOC Code of Practice on Sex Discrimination
- Deal with grievances on grounds of sex in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice and fully investigate any allegations and consider suspension measures if applicable
- Respond promptly and sensitively to any submitted questions by an employee under the Equality Act 2010
- Take legal advice to protect and limit the legal and reputation risks to your company as soon as you can.
If you are an employee suffering discrimination because of your Sex, you should take the following steps:-
- Raise the issues with your line manager or Human Resources and seek to resolve matters informally with your employer if at all possible
- If this does not work consider the formal grievance route or consider submitting questions to the employer to help determine whether you have a claim under the Equality Act 2010 (previously known as the Questionnaire Procedure).
- Always keep a paper trail/ diary of events and keep copies of any relevant documents/emails/correspondence
- Consider issuing an Employment Tribunal Claim if you are unable to resolve your concerns with your employer first.
- Take legal advice from a solicitor specialising in employment law