A City banker has won a gender discrimination case after alleging she was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds less than a male colleague and was the victim of a drunken prank that included leaving a witch’s hat on her desk.
Stacey Macken sued the London office of BNP Paribas for £4m on the basis of unequal pay, claiming she was discriminated against due to her gender and paid significantly less than a male co-worker with the same job title. She also claimed she faced harassment.
Macken was recruited on an annual salary of £120,000. But just months later, a male colleague was hired under the same job title for £160,000. That same co-worker took home about £237,000 in bonuses over a five-year period, seven times more than the combined £33,000 offered to Macken.
An employment tribunal in London heard that Macken was often rudely dismissed by one of her bosses, who would brush off her questions by saying “not now Stacey”. The phrase was used so frequently that her colleagues started to use the phrase sarcastically.
Another boss subjected Macken to crude stories, including one about a friend who took part in sexual role play with his wife that involved fantasies about sex workers. The same senior banker would also answer the phone to friends by saying “hey sexy”, or “hey fuckface”.
Macken told colleagues she was uncomfortable working with her male colleagues shortly after joining the French-owned bank in 2013, when they left a Halloween-style black witch’s hat on her desk after a drinking session.
Georgina Chapman, a former personal assistant to one of Macken’s bosses, said: “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 that communication broke down between Macken and senior management shortly after she filed a grievance to BNP Paribas over her pay and claimed she was subject to hostile performance reviews.
She received no bonus in 2017, when her bosses noted: “Stacey’s inability to accept constructive feedback … has led to a cascade of comments, accusations and recriminations which has led to the breakdown of her relationship with the management of the bank.”
Her male colleague received £70,000 in bonuses that year.
An employment tribunal judge upheld her complaints over unequal pay and discrimination, but dismissed the harassment claims. It is not yet clear how much she may receive in compensation from BNP Paribas, where she is still employed.