Sky loses discrimination cases
Friday, December 17 2010, 10:26 GMT
By Andrew Laughlin,

Sky is facing a potential payout of around 200,000 after two female former employees won a case of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination at an industrial tribunal.

Yesterday, a tribunal ruled that Natalie Stone, 34, and Victoria Waterson, 31, were axed from their jobs at Sky Movies because they were mothers with young children.

The two women were not fairly considered for a newly-created video producer job, which was instead given to Dee Lakhan, the personal assistant of Sky executive Mike Taylor.

The tribunal found that Taylor, head of networked media at Sky Movies, had a "mindset adverse to pregnancy and maternity leave".

Stone and Waterson had a job share arrangement on the role of senior content editor on the Sky Movies website.

At the time of their redundancy, Stone was pregnant with her third child and Waterson was a mother of one. They subsequently alleged that they were forced out of their jobs by Sky to save on maternity pay.

The tribunal criticised Sky for a lack of transparency in its recruitment process and said that the firm "exaggerated" the differences between Stone and Waterson's job and the new producer post.

The two women are seeking compensation for loss of earnings and discrimination. They can claim up to 65,300 each for unfair dismissal, along with open-ended damages for sex discrimination. The level of their compensation will be decided by the tribunal at a hearing next year.

In a statement, a Sky spokeswoman said: "We're disappointed with the outcome of this case as we take responsibility to our employees very seriously.

"However, we maintain that the actions taken by the team were fair and transparent. We have a diverse workforce including thousands of valued women, many of whom are mothers working either full-time or on a flexible basis. Recently we've doubled our maternity provision."