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Female economist denied promotion wins sex discrimination case

Posted: 25th April 2019   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

A female economist has been awarded £19,000 after she was overlooked for promotion by her employer who instead gave the job to a less qualified male colleague.

Olwen Renowden joined the Office for National Statistics in August 2016 as a grade 7 economist.

In February 2017, she applied for an advertised grade 6 economist role within the ONS.

However, she was not given an interview because she fell below the minimum requirement in the “application of economics” competency test.

The ONS later announced that the role had been given to a male employee, who had less experience and qualifications than Renowden.

She raised a grievance with her employer and an investigation was launched. It found that several female employees “detailed bad practices that led to them feeling undervalued and demoralised”. Despite this, there was no discrimination proven.

Renowden unsuccessfully appealed the decision, and later resigned.

She brought the case to the Employment Tribunal, which found in her favour.

The tribunal heard that gender balance among economists in the ONS was “out of kilter”. Court documents showed women made up 37% of the total grade 7 employees, compared to just 20% of the higher grade 6.

Judge Beard said their “approach to gender balance on the selection panels… pointed towards a general culture where discrimination and, in particular, sex discrimination, is not properly understood by those who are required to ensure its elimination”.

The ONS was ordered to pay £19,000 to Ms Renowden in compensation for injury to feelings.

Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of employment law.


Posted by: Jackie Cuneen
Luton Office