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UK Grocery Store Fires Employee After She Exposed the Gender Pay Gap

A UK-based grocery store is in hot water after a former director sought legal action against the company.

Former HR-Director, Sam Walker, is suing The Co-op on the grounds of unequal pay, discrimination, and unfair dismissal from the company in the spring of 2016. The dismissal came on the heels of Walker warning then CEO, Richard Pennycook, that “[The company] was not looking good from an equal pay perspective.”

Walker says she told Pennycook that “the Co-op had an equal pay problem which not only exposed the business to legal claims, but was inconsistent with the Co-op’s declared values.” She went on to claim, “[I was] not treated equally in terms of pay with two male colleagues in the Co-op’s executive team and that I was victimized and discriminated (and ultimately dismissed) when I raised concerns about this.”

While the company claims that Walker’s allegations are completely false – instead pointing to her supposed lack-luster work performance – Walker maintains that she worked through the ranks in a “man’s world.”

Many women across the European nation can sympathize with Walker. A recent report published by the Financial Times shows that approximately 89 percent of women in the United Kingdom work for a company with a pay gap which leans towards men. Furthermore, that pay gap results in men receiving 18.4 percent more than women in the same roles and workplaces.

However, this number does not include the 1,500 companies that failed to report their wage gap to the national government by the April 4th deadline.

In response, government officials urged British companies to address the issue.

Rachel Reeves, chairwoman for the United Kingdom’s Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee, told RightsInfo that their “analysis found some companies have obscene and entirely unacceptable gender pay gaps of more than 40 percent.”

This all comes together to give the United Kingdom the dubious honor of being one of the most discriminatory countries in the European Union regarding gender pay gap. Even worse, the UK ranks as the 20th best country for pay gap in the world, meaning that such practices are actually worse in 90% of countries.

Sam Walker is not phased, though. While she recognizes that the likelihood of her carrying on a career in her present industry is unlikely due to the suit, she affirms that she wants to see real change.

“I’ve had a 28-year career with mainly just men around the table once I reached senior positions and all the time I have been conscious that they have been paid more. I cannot leave that career, which I now accept is damaged beyond repair by simply making this claim, without trying to put something right.”

Featured Image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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