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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Payout over sexism in the City
London skyline
Mrs Bower had a high-earning job in the City
A woman who claimed she was forced to resign her high-flying City job over a pay dispute has won a sex discrimination case against her former employer.

Julie Bower, 35, was earning 120,000-a- year as a senior analyst with Schroder Securities Limited, but resigned because her complaints about unequal pay went unanswered.

An employment tribunal has ruled that SSL discriminated against Mrs Bower by paying her far less than her male colleagues.

The mother-of-one - who was battling ovarian cancer at the time - was given an "insultingly" low bonus because bosses wanted to get rid of her, the panel added.

I hope that no one else ever has to go through the same sort of thing again

Julie Bower
She was given a 25,000 bonus for 1998, while some male co-workers received up to 1.5m.

Mrs Bower, from Pimlico, central London, won her claim of unfair dismissal and two claims of sexual discrimination in relation to both her dismissal and the bonus.

But the tribunal rejected two further claims of sex discrimination, and an equal pay claim that she should also have been paid a 1.5m bonus.

The company had said this bonus was only arranged to stop SSL workers who had been approached by other companies from being "poached".

The tribunal ruled that the firm's attitude over pay had forced the mother-of-one to resign.

'Threatening and sarcastic'

It concluded that her 25,000 bonus did not reflect the market rate or represent a genuine valuation of her performance, but was "calculated and intended to give her the message that she was not valued or wanted".

It added that her boss, Michael Crawshaw, would not have treated her that way "but for the fact that she was a woman" and said that he was "really very ignorant" of equal opportunity matters.

Earlier, she had told the tribunal that she had raised the problems with SSL a number of times, but her boss became increasingly "threatening and sarcastic."

Equal opportunities are not an optional extra

Jenny Watson
Equal Opportunities Commission
Following a series of increasingly critical appraisals, she was told that she had been ranked as SSL's worst team leader.

But rankings by the company's own sales team placed her 37th out of 68.

Mrs Bower, who was also told by chairman Philip Augar to go on a relationship skills course, resigned in October 1999.

Speaking after the tribunal decision, Mrs Bower said: "The way in which Schroder dealt with my complaints about the way I was treated was completely unacceptable and I hope that no one else ever has to go through the same sort of thing again."

The Equal Opportunities Commission, which backed Mrs Bower's case, said the culture at SSL made discrimination all too easy to occur.

Jenny Watson, deputy chairman of the commission, said: "I hope employers will take notice of the lessons to be learned from this case. Equal opportunities are not an optional extra and there is no case, as is sometimes claimed, for the City to 'do things differently'."

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