Solicitor wins £150,000 in equal pay and discrimination case

equal pay case

Shipping solicitor Helena Biggs has been awarded more than £150,000 in damages in the conclusion of a successful equal pay and discrimination suit brought against her former employer A Bilborough and Company in 2020.

In December 2020, the Employment Tribunal found in favour of Biggs in her complaints of unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, equal pay and victimisation.

Biggs worked at the insurance firm from 2003, and in 2010 was promoted to associate director. In 2013, she discovered that a male colleague in the same role was paid £2,000 more per year, but did not raise the issue until 2015. When Biggs did raise concerns about equal pay, she was reportedly met with a warning from her manager, and a recommendation to drop the issue entirely.

When she pursued the matter further, Biggs was provided with a pay rise, but this was not backdated to 2010. Furthermore, she reported the onset of victimisation, including missing out on progression opportunities with little justification, and despite the firm confirming her hard work, ultimately culminating in her dismissal in 2018, which the employer claimed was due to a breakdown of relationships.

Having found in her favour, the tribunal has now charged A Bilborough and Company with paying Biggs £151,811.31 in damages. This amount includes a basic pay award of £6,846.00, past lost wages, plus interest, of £28,581.00, compensation for the reduction in childcare benefits of £2,657.55, and £53,840.00 for injury to feelings, among other factors.

In addition to the equal pay claim, the tribunal recorded instances of ongoing discrimination on the part of senior male members of staff, including refusing to assign certain clients to Biggs due to her gender, making sexually inappropriate comments about her relationships with female clients, dismissing claims of inappropriate behaviour at work events, and using biased negative language to describe her to others.

A spokesperson from A Bilsborough and Company said: “We were naturally disappointed by the outcome of the Tribunal which we feel does not accurately reflect the high standards of the company. Nevertheless, we fully recognise the importance of ensuring that any instance of behaviour that is not fitting with our expectations is addressed proactively and robustly.

“We have therefore taken substantive steps to identify and address any drivers of inappropriate behaviour. This includes engaging independent third-party experts to thoroughly review our corporate culture and deliver a range of additional leadership, diversity and inclusion and related training to all members of staff. We are confident that, through this process, we have put necessary measures in place to ensure a safe and inclusive working environment for all.”