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Sex discrimination victory for man

Lucy Bogustawski
Wednesday 19 May 2010 00:00 BST

A male lawyer was wrongfully sacked because bosses were worried they would be sued if they fired his female counterpart while she was on maternity leave, it emerged yesterday.

John de Belin, 45, was made redundant from his associate position in the property division of Eversheds, a law firm in Leeds, in February 2009 after going up against his 40-year-old colleague Angela Reinholz.

Ruling on a rare case of a man claiming sex discrimination, the Leeds employment tribunal awarded Mr de Belin £123,300 after it found he had been unfairly dismissed and sexually discriminated against.

In the tribunal judgment, Judge Jeremy Shulman said the firm "unfairly inflated" Ms Reinholz's work assessment scores included in the redundancy process. The company gave her the maximum notional score in one area because it regarded it as the fairest approach to protect her while she was not there to influence the result.

Mr de Belin raised his concerns but was told that the process was fair and, because he scored lower, he would lose his job while Ms Reinholz would keep hers.

Judge Shulman found that the scoring system was not within the range of reasonable responses and led to discrimination against Mr de Belin.

Judge Shulman said: "We do not feel that Section 2(2) [of the Sex Discrimination Act] was intended to protect a woman on maternity leave in a redundancy scoring exercise where we find that she received an unfairly inflated score, when all other scores were actual, the notional score being designed to defeat a tribunal case against Ms Reinholz, which had the effect of depriving the claimant of his livelihood."

Eversheds is appealing.

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