Sunderland City Council has lost yet another equal pay case and is now facing a bill which could ultimately rise to over £20 million. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Newcastle Employment Tribunal which had found that bonus payments of up to 50 per cent for road sweepers, refuse workers and gardeners discriminated against more than 1,000 female cleaners, care workers, cooks and administrative assistants.

The Court agreed with a submission on behalf of the women that the Council was "not within a country mile" of showing that the original decision was incorrectly decided and upheld the following findings:

  • There was no monitoring of the bonuses and no evidence of them ever being withheld
  • There was no decrease in productivity after the bonuses were removed
  • Some of the men were entitled to leave work early every day with all men leaving early on Fridays

The decision comes hot on the heels of another finding by the Newcastle Tribunal in February which found that a new pay structure introduced in 2005 had simply preserved discrimination within the Council.

Paul Doran, of Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited, who acted for the women, said: "This is another important step on the long road of achieving justice for my clients. It is appalling that during these times of austerity the Council continues to incur huge legal costs by trying to defend the indefensible. The simple fact remains that we are now well into the 21st Century yet this huge employer in the North-East continues to treat women as second class citizens" He added that a Grade 4 Care Assistant working 30 hours a week could be in line for a total payment of £60,000 at the conclusion of the case.

If further information is required, please contact:

Paul Doran, Head of Employment

Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited

Buddle House

Buddle Road

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE4 8AW

paul@stefancross.co.uk

0191 – 2263274

07824-397230

Alternatively, Stefan Cross on 07734101011

3 April 2012

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Contact Name:
Paul Doran
Role:
Head of Employment
Company:
Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited
Contact Email:
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Contact Phone:
01912263274