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Record pay-out in sex bias case

A WOMAN who was overlooked for promotion at a maternity hospital because she was a mother herself has been awarded record compensation.

Kathleen Holden, 34, a part- time laboratory worker, won pounds 17,127, which beat the British record for sex discrimination compensation by more than pounds 6,000.

An industrial tribunal in Liverpool ruled in March that the Wirral Hospital Trust had unlawfully discriminated against Mrs Holden, a mother- of-two, after the job she filled on a temporary basis went to a man.

The hearing was told that in July 1992, during an interview for the position which Mrs Holden had held for three months without complaint, she was questioned on her plans for child care rather than on her technical knowledge of the job.

When the post went to a man she was forced to take a lower paid job elsewhere.

The high compensation follows the removal in August of the pounds 11,000 limit on sex discrimination awards to public employees. She was awarded pounds 14,127 for loss of earnings and an extra pounds 3,000 for injury to her feelings.

Mrs Holden said yesterday: 'I was shocked when they failed to ask me any searching questions about my knowledge of the job.

'All they wanted to know was who was going to look after my two children.

'Now I am just relieved it's all over at long last.'

Graham Hewitt, Wirral hospital's director of human resources, said yesterday: 'We were surprised at the size of the award, particularly after the chairman indicated in the original hearing that the discrimination was not intentional.

'But we are re-looking at our interviewing techniques and everyone involved is being given formal training in recruitment and selection, a key feature of which is equal opportunities.'