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Case Study: Negotiating a £20,000 settlement in a Sex Discrimination claim

Employment Law Team

How Sarah Henderson, Associate Solicitor based in our Brighton office, brought and settled a sex discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal for a woman who was dismissed for being too assertive.

The situation

Lilia was a sales director at a tech company. She was much younger than the other directors and the only black and female director. She was asked to take on additional markets, following the resignation of a male director. She queried this because she was already overworked. Also she was aware that her white, male colleague had been paid significantly more than her. She told her manager that she would expect to be paid more if they wanted her to take on this additional work.

Shortly afterwards she was approached in an “off the record” conversation and was offered a package to terminate her employment or face disciplinary proceedings relating to concerns raised by colleagues about her attitude. She was told that they could do this” the easy way or the hard way.”

As Lilia had less than 2 years’ service this left her vulnerable as she was not able to bring an unfair dismissal claim. As she was confident that she had done nothing wrong, Lilia chose the “hard way”. She defended herself through her disciplinary process and was ultimately dismissed. She lodged an appeal but the decision to dismiss was upheld.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Lilia came to us shortly after she was dismissed. We advised her that there was evidence of sex discrimination in the decision to dismiss her. Some of the characteristics which her employer said were examples of a poor attitude were feedback from colleagues that she was too confident and assertive. These were things which we considered would not be considered to be negative traits in a man. We were also concerned that Lilia had been dismissed after asserting her right to be paid the same as a male colleague. We assisted her in preparing a formal grievance to challenge this sex and potentially race discrimination and unequal pay.

To flush out evidence at an early stage we advised Lilia to make a Subject Access Request for her personal data. The company’s response to the request was slow and defensive and Lilia had no alternative but to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The company defended their decision and we issued Employment Tribunal proceedings on Lilia’s behalf alleging sex discrimination and victimisation. Although we believed that it was a combination of sex and race the stronger claim was for sex discrimination and our current discrimination law does not recognise dual discrimination.

The result

We were able to secure Lilia £20,000 in compensation which was a good result as she had found another job, at a higher rate of pay, shortly after her discriminatory dismissal.

Lilia’s case was listed for a five day hearing but we managed to settle her case only two months after issuing in the Employment Tribunal.

As Employment Law cases do not allow for the winner to claim their costs this also meant that Lilia saved a great deal of money in legal fees.

If you believe you are being treated unfairly or have been dismissed due to sex discrimination or any other discriminatory reason, contact our Employment Law team on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

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