Former BBC employee receives settlement over pay discrimination

A former BBC employee has received an out of court settlement worth more than £130,000 after she accused the broadcaster of discrimination when it was revealed male counterparts had received significantly higher wages.

The dispute arose after Caroline Barlow who had worked in the corporation’s design and engineering division for six years, resigned when it emerged that fifteen men in similar roles within her division were paid significantly higher wages.

This led to her filing an employment tribunal claim on the matter, accusing the BBC of failing to meet its obligations over equal pay, as well as claiming they were guilty of constructive dismissal, harassment and discrimination.

Ms Barlow said she had first come to believe she was being underpaid when the corporation published its career path framework data.  Around the same time, the BBC found male staff earned an average of 9.3 per cent more than women.

She embarked on the BBC’s informal pay inquiry process and received a 25 per cent pay increase.

However, with little explanation or transparency over the decision, Ms Barlow suspected she was still being underpaid. She then raised a formal pay grievance and used data protection laws to force the release of her pay review.

Ms Barlow found she was paid at least £9,000 a year less than her male peers and in her claim stated she believed she was underpaid by up to £69,000 a year in comparison to some of her male colleagues, who were in the same pay bracket.

The BBC denied Ms Barlow’s allegations. However, in May it agreed to an out-of-court settlement which included a termination fee on the basis that her claim was withdrawn.

The corporation also accepted that the former Head of Product was paid less than 15 men in similar roles, but insisted this was for non-gender reasons such as their work being of higher value.

Ms Barlow said: “Inequality at the BBC is a choice. The BBC destroyed my career, my confidence, my mental wellbeing, and nothing will ever make up for that.

“They can give as much money as they like, but it will never bring that back.”

The corporation is currently being investigated over pay discrimination by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with results set to be published later this year.