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£10,000 settlement from leading HRM university for unequal pay breach


A female lecturer at Leicester's De Montfort University has received £10,000 compensation from her employers in an out of court settlement after she was appointed on a lower salary than male colleagues, contrary to Equal Pay legislation. Dr Lorna Chessum was appointed on the bottom point of the Senior Lecturer academic salary scale, receiving some £6,000 less than a similarly qualified male colleague.

Dr Chessum's case against the university was supported throughout by her union, NATFHE and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). As well as receiving compensation, Dr Chessum has been raised to the salary point that she would have reached had she been fairly paid in the first instance.

Dr Lorna Chessum, a senior lecturer in the School of Education said:

"I hope this victory can be of benefit to other women. I am delighted that the case is now resolved - it has been very stressful having to fight to get the issue taken seriously."

Neil Williamson, NATFHE, branch secretary at De Montfort University said:

"This kind of institutionalised sexism is endemic in Higher Education. NATFHE has been approached by a number of female academics, with similar claims, in other universities - so the problem is not unique to De Montfort. NATFHE welcomes the fact that DMU has acknowledged the injustice done to Dr Chessum, and look forward to working with the university and the EOC to make discrimination a thing of the past."

Jenny Watson, Deputy Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission said:

"This case demonstrates how important it is that all employers have a fair and transparent pay system. Women are systematically paid less than men in higher education, earning on average 85p for every £1 earned by a man. If universities want to attract the best staff and maintain high academic standards then they have to tackle the pay gap as a matter of urgency."

As part of the settlement De Montfort University has agreed to review and amend its Equal Opportunities Policy by 15 December 2000, with guidance from the EOC. The university will also have to review its systems for deciding academics' basic salary with the aim of identifying whether or not sex bias exists.

In the longer term, De Montfort has agreed to regular monitoring of its Equal Opportunities policy, with reports being provided at least annually to the University's Equal Opportunities Advisory Group.

The De Montfort University Business School meanwhile has a growing reputation for the quality of its Human Resource Management courses within the DMU Business School. It is to be hoped that DMU don't work on the principle of 'do as I say, not as I do'.


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