A City banker has won £2million in compensation in a sexual discrimination case after colleagues left a witch’s hat on her desk and kept telling her ‘not now, Stacey’.
Stacey Macken, 50, sued French bank BNP Paribas, claiming that over a four year period she received hundreds of thousands of pounds less than her male peers in salary and bonuses – and managers treated her unfairly when she complained.
The £120,000-a-year finance specialist was hired by BNP Paribas in 2013, but unbeknown to her, a male recruit hired with the same job title and responsibilities was being paid £160,000, the London Central tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard in her first four years her male peer was paid more than £167,000 in bonuses compared to the £33,000 she received.
The bank claimed they had hired her as a ‘junior’ and that her male colleague deserved his higher salary because he was her senior.
Miss Macken was successful in her claims of sex discrimination, victimisation, and unequal pay after the tribunal ruled the leaving of a witch’s hat on her desk was an ‘inherently sexist act’ and the regular use of ‘not now, Stacey’ was ‘demeaning’.
Now Miss Macken, from Fulham, West London, has won £2,081,449 – one of the largest awards ever made by a British tribunal – after suing the international bank.
Stacey Macken, 50, sued French bank BNP Paribas after being belittled by her boss who kept telling her ‘not now, Stacey’ – a phrase he used so often that colleagues even copied it
Doctor awarded £4.5million – the ‘largest sum awarded for UK discrimination case’ – in 2011
A hospital trust was ordered to pay nearly £4.5million in compensation – thought to be the biggest sum ever awarded in a UK discrimination case – to a doctor who was hounded out of her job after deciding to have a baby.
Obstetrician Dr Eva Michalak, who was 53 at the time of the Leeds tribunal in December 2011, suffered race and sex discrimination at Pontefract General Infirmary.
The tribunal heard that senior staff hatched a plan to get rid of Dr Michalak in a secret meeting in March 2003, while she was seven months pregnant.
She started receiving complaints and criticism and was accused of bullying junior doctors until her suspension in January 2006, before she was subjected to ‘a lengthy and wholly unauthorised period of suspension’.
Disciplinary proceedings started in May 2007, and she was dismissed in July 2008.
The tribunal heard colleagues mounted a ‘concerted campaign’ to end her employment while she was on maternity leave, and the trust along with three senior staff members were ordered to pay her £4,452,206.60 for the sex and race discrimination.
There had been repeated references made to Dr Michalak’s Polish origin during meetings and telephone conversations between her colleagues, who questioned her competency because she trained in her home country, the panel said.
In their judgment, they found that the disciplinary procedure used by the trust in the case was ‘bogus’ and Dr Michalak was dismissed ‘for no good or justifiable reason’.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to Dr Michalak.
Employment Judge Emma Burns slammed Miss Macken’s male bosses for acting ‘spitefully and vindictively’ and increased her compensation because the bank failed to apologise to her.
Within months of joining, Miss Macken claimed she was exposed to sexist behaviour involving one of her bosses in the Prime Brokerage team, Matt Pinnock.
His former PA, Georgina Chapman, told a tribunal: ‘In October 2013, a large Halloween-style black witch’s hat was left on Stacey Macken’s desk after some of the Prime Brokerage team, including Matthew Pinnock, had gone drinking at the pub towards the end of the day.
‘I was working later than usual (possibly around 7pm-8pm) and was packing up to leave as they came back from their drinking session. They were visibly drunk and were racing around the nearly empty office being loud and boisterous.
‘I arrived at work the next morning (around 8am) and there was a witch’s hat on Stacey’s desk, directly in front of her computer. Stacey arrived into work around 8.45am, which was when she saw the hat and asked me if I knew who had put it there.
‘I told her that I did not know, but I suspected it was one of the drunk team members, because they were the only people in that area of the office the evening before, which, combined with their drunkenness, made them most likely to have done it.
‘Stacey was visibly upset and confided in me that she felt really uncomfortable working with those male colleagues, knowing that one of them had purposefully gone out of their way to leave a witch’s hat on her desk.’
The tribunal heard Mr Pinnock also answered the phone to friends with the words ‘hi, f***face’ and ‘hi, sexy’ and on one occasion discussed with Miss Mackey how a friend and his wife had engaged in ‘prostitution’ role play.
Another boss, Denis Pihan, was accused of routinely demeaning her by replying ‘not now, Stacey’ when she tried to talk to him.
‘When (she) asked him questions he would tend to say ‘not now, Stacey’, the tribunal heard. ‘He did so often that the (her) colleagues made sarcastic comments about it.
‘In a chat on 21 March 2016 in which Mr Pihan was being discussed one of (them) wrote ”NOT NOW STACEY:-)”.’
Miss Mackey made repeated internal complaints about her treatment, in particular relating to her pay and bonuses and eventually took the bank to a tribunal, claiming more than £4 million in compensation and back pay.
The London offices of French bank BNP Paribas where Ms Macken worked in the Prime Brokerage team
At Miss Macken’s compensation hearing Judge Burns said: ‘We consider the tribunal panel found that Mr Pinnock and Mr Pihan behaved spitefully and vindictively towards Miss Macken because she had raised concerns about her pay and that they did have a discriminatory motive.
‘We consider the [bank] should apologise more fully from a purely moral perspective, but we decline from ordering it to do this.
Within months of joining, she claimed she was exposed to sexist behaviour involving one of her bosses in the Prime Brokerage team, Matt Pinnock
‘In our judgement, for an apology to be effective it needs to be genuine and heartfelt rather than ordered… We have taken into account the bank’s failure to apologise when awarding aggravated damages. We consider this is the correct approach in this case.’
Mr Pihan ‘apologised for causing distress’ at the tribunal but ‘did not acknowledge that he personally discriminated against Miss Macken, nor did he apologise for discriminating against her’.
The bank claimed it has now adopted a ‘detailed Gender Strategy and Gender Action Plan’ in response to its poor gender pay gap and is ‘trying to increase the number of women at senior management level’.
Miss Macken, who said her ordeal had an impact on her mental health, is also a qualified accountant who grew up in and was educated in New Zealand.
A tribunal report said of her: ‘She has prioritised her 22 year career in banking over other lifestyle choices. This includes remaining single and not having children.
‘She enjoyed her work and was fulfilled by it. Other than keeping her personal fitness at a high level she pursued no other hobbies or interests.’
Her claims of harassment were dismissed and she lost a claim for damages over the ‘stigma’ she suffered in this case.
As part of her £2 million compensation fee, Miss Macken received £51,400 to cover ‘pain and suffering’ caused, £35,000 to cover injury to feelings, and £15,000 in ‘aggravated damages’.