Helen Bamber, 32, who is suing Fuji International Finance under the Equal Pay Act, told an industrial tribunal in Croydon, south London, that women's promotion there was "remarkably slow" and that she had been subjected to sexist behaviour by George Ball, the head of sales, and Michael Cole, the present deputy managing director, who accused her of trying to make "easy money" out of the firm.
Ms Bamber had gone to see Mr Cole over her pay after a male colleague had been made an "offer he couldn't refuse". Later she found a memo which said: "I believe she is already looking for another job and may already have found one. She is trying to get some easy money."
She joined the firm as a graduate trainee in 1986 and resigned in 1994 after three salesmen were recruited to take over her responsibilities.
"Despite a fairly lengthy time at the company, the promotion history of women seems to have been remarkably slow, particularly relative to some of the promotions of men," she said. Between 1988 and 1994 five men were recruited and only one woman, who left after a year. Where four out of five women had been educated to degree level, only three out of six of the men had been.
In 1991 Ms Bamber earned pounds 40,000 - 68 per cent of the firm's average - with a pounds 4,500 bonus. Two years later her pounds 43,000 salary had slipped to 54 per cent of the average and she received no bonus.
A comparable male colleague who joined in 1993 earned pounds 52,000 - 66 per cent of the firm's average - with a bonus of pounds 15,000. A year later he was on a pounds 90,000 salary with an pounds 85,000 bonus while Ms Bamber's salary had only gone up to pounds 47,000.
Ms Bamber said that Kazuo Matsuda, the former deputy managing director, "had made it known generally within the trading floor that he was discouraging the recruitment of women and wanted more men in the company". She added that she thought he did not see her as "sufficiently deferential", unlike female Japanese employees, who would fetch him coffee and lunch.
"In the first couple of weeks he placed on his desk a calendar with young topless European women on it ... a lot of people noticed it and were upset."
She said that if she had been a man he would not have had a problem with the salaries and bonuses she demanded. "But to see a woman directly saying that she was not being treated as she should be, he found it very difficult to accept and was very disapproving of it."Reuse content