Female banker awarded £2m after drunk colleagues left witch’s hat on her desk

Stacey Macken sued BNP Paribas after years of unequal pay and discrimination by male colleagues

Holly Bancroft
Tuesday 01 February 2022 10:00 GMT
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<p>Ms Macken’s boss repeatedly brushed aside her questions with ‘not now, Stacey’</p>

Ms Macken’s boss repeatedly brushed aside her questions with ‘not now, Stacey’

A City banker has been awarded more than £2m compensation for discrimination after drunk male colleagues left a witch’s hat on her desk.

Stacey Macken, 50, sued the French bank BNP Paribas after years of unequal pay and belittlement by male colleagues.

An employment tribunal heard her boss repeatedly brushed her aside by saying “not now Stacey”.

The £2,081,229 figure is reportedly one of the largest awarded by an English tribunal for the finding of unequal pay based on gender.

Ms Macken worked as a £120,000-a-year finance specialist and claimed in the tribunal that she had received hundreds of thousands of pounds less than her male peers in salary and bonuses.

Ms Macken, previously a vice-president at Deutsche Bank, was hired by BNP Paribas in 2013 . She later learned a man with the same job title and responsibilities was being paid £160,000.

She also said her managers had targeted her unfairly after she complained about her treatment.

One of her bosses in the prime brokerage team, Matt Pinnock, targeted her with sexist jokes, Ms Macken claimed.

Mr Pinnock’s former PA, Georgina Chapman, told the London Central tribunal: “In October 2013, a large Halloween-style black witch’s hat was left on Stacey Macken’s desk after some of the prime brokerage team, including Matthew Pinnock, had gone drinking at the pub towards the end of the day.

“Stacey was visibly upset and confided in me that she felt really uncomfortable working with those male colleagues, knowing that one of them had purposefully gone out of their way to leave a witch’s hat on her desk.”

A 2019 employment tribunal found that Ms Macken had suffered discrimination and Judge James Tayler ruled then: “Leaving a witch’s hat on a female employee’s desk, in a predominantly male working environment, was an inherently sexist act.”

The tribunal did not accept the evidence of Ms Macken’s boss, Denis Pihan, that his “not now, Stacey” comment was said “only occasionally as a way of explaining that he was busy”.

Instead, judges found that the comment was “rude and dismissive” of Ms Macken.

At Ms Macken’s recent compensation hearing, Judge Emma Burns said: “We consider the tribunal panel found that Mr Pinnock and Mr Pihan behaved spitefully and vindictively towards Ms Macken because she had raised concerns about her pay and that they did have a discriminatory motive.

“We consider the [bank] should apologise more fully from a purely moral persective, but we decline from ordering it to do this.

“In our judgement, for an apology to be effective it needs to be genuine and heartfelt rather than ordered... We have taken into account the bank’s failure to apologise when awarding aggravated damages. We consider this is the correct approach in this case.”

A tribunal report wrote of Ms Macken: “She has prioritised her 22-year careet in banking over other lifestyle choices. This includes remaining single and not having children.

“She enjoyed her work and was fulfilled by it. Other than keeping her personal fitness at a high level she pursued no other hobbies or interests.”

BNP Paribas admitted it “fell short in our duty to Ms Macken”.

A spokesperson added: "We are actively considering the Tribunal's judgement to see what we can learn.

"Our aim is to ensure that all of our people are treated with the respect they deserve at all times.

"We are pleased that the Tribunal recognised the seriousness with which we have taken its findings and the major steps forward we have made to try to ensure that nothing like this happens again."

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