Former Co-op HR Chief wins equal pay and unfair dismissal claims

The former HR Chief at the Co-operative Group has won equal pay and unfair dismissal claims against her employer – the Guardian reports.

Sam Walker claimed that she was dismissed after accentuating issues surrounding her pay and warning company leaders that the Co-op may have had gender pay disparities for men and women carrying out similar roles.

Although the tribunal opposed Walker’s claims that her dismissal was discriminatory, the tribunal did rule that the Co-op “directly discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sex” after deciding that her work only “partially achieved” when she had not been given a decent yearly appraisal.

Earlier this year, HR Grapevine reported that Walker, who was appointed as Chief HR Officer in 2014, lodged claims over equal pay back in 2015 following a comparison of her salary to male counterparts at the company.

Walker has since told the Guardian: “The Co-op have been found wanting, and I want to see the organisation change as a result.

“Going through this process has also revealed to me that the law is fundamentally flawed and must change.

“More fundamentally, we need societal change: people shouldn’t want to work for companies who treat their employees differently and are breaking the law.”

Walker has been supported by former BBC China Editor, Carrier Gracie, who resigned from her position in January for similar reasons. Walker is also joined by Sam Smethers, Chief Executive Officer at Fawcett Society – a charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights – who says that this case has shed light on the importance of awareness surrounding equal pay.

Smethers told the Guardian: “This case is hugely significant because it shows what is possible when women get the chance to challenge pay discrimination. Very few women do; most are completely shut out. Pay discrimination can happen anywhere and that’s why we have to support women on low incomes particularly.”