A highly rated City analyst who quit her £105,000-a-year post alleging sexual discrimination earned £45,000 less than a male colleague who only worked for two days a week, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.
Louise Barton, 52, a media analyst with Investec Henderson Crosthwaite Securities, also received half as much in bonuses as her less experienced colleague, despite having worked in the City for 23 years and being rated best in her field by financial experts.
Mathew Horsman, a former journalist with The Independent, was hired by her company as an investment analyst in 1997. Two years later, he was given a 50 per cent pay increase to £150,000 because his bosses were concerned that he might be headhunted.
The pay rise came after Mr Horsman negotiated to work for only two days a week. The company's chairman, Perry Crosthwaite, had given him permission to go part time so that he could continue developing television programmes and writing a book.
Ms Barton, from Fulham, west London, left her job as a fund manager and is claiming sexual discrimination and unequal pay.
She was finally given a pay rise two years later than Mr Horsman after finding out about his pay deal and complaining to her superiors.
Mr Crosthwaite told the tribunal yesterday: "We raised Mathew Horsman's salary because we were aware he was being headhunted. With one exception Mathew's was the highest salary being paid including the director."
He said the firm had agreed to Mr Horsman's request to work part time because it feared the company might lose business if he left. "We agreed he would only work two days a week as he wanted to work on TV programmes and write an updated version of his book on BSkyB," Mr Crosthwaite said.
"If he had not been there two days a week there would have been companies who would not have stayed with us," he told the employment tribunal. "We decided he should work two days a week rather than give him a sabbatical to pursue his other interests."
Mr Horsman was given the pay rise in July 1999 and worked part time for three months that year before returning to work full time when his television ventures did not materialise. Ms Barton did not receive her salary increase until April 2001.
In four years, Mr Horsman was paid salary and bonuses of £2.2m – twice that of Ms Barton in the same period. The tribunal was told that bonuses were a closely guarded secret and members of staff were not aware of their colleagues' pay.
Investec Henderson Cros-thwaite denies the sexual discrimination allegation. The hearing continues.