Banker Who Found Witch Hat on Her Desk Awarded $2.8M

It's one of the biggest awards ever handed down by a UK employment tribunal
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Banker Awarded $2.8M in 'Witch Hat' Discrimination Case
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

A female British banker who suffered an "inherently sexist act" involving a witch's hat has been awarded $2.8 million for that and other sexual discrimination. Stacey Macken, a former Deutsche Bank VP, joined the London office of French bank BNP Paribas in 2013 at a salary of roughly $160,000—only to later learn that a male colleague with the same title and responsibility was paid more than $50,000 more, reports the Guardian. Three years into her tenure at the company, which she left after four years, the salary gap had surged to 85%, reports the Financial Times.

The London Central tribunal heard that in October of 2013, some members of the prime brokerage team "had gone drinking at the pub towards the end of the day" and subsequently left "a large Halloween-style black witch's hat" on Macken's desk. Another boss responded to her so frequently with the phrase "not now, Stacey" that co-workers began using it as well. The tribunal found it was a "demeaning comment," with a judge stating that two of her bosses "behaved spitefully and vindictively towards Miss Macken because she had raised concerns about her pay and that they did have a discriminatory motive."

The tribunal further noted that the bank had failed to apologize to Macken, and while the tribunal "decline[d] from ordering it to do this," it did award aggravated damages because of it. The $2.8 million in compensation Macken will receive is one of the biggest awards ever handed down by a UK employment tribunal. Bloomberg adds the tribunal also made the "unprecedented" move of ordering BNP to complete a public audit of its London staff to suss out whether there are other instances of gender-related pay disparities. (Read more gender discrimination stories.)

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