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Senior Executive wins discrimination claim after being denied a pay rise because her husband’s salary was ‘enough’

In the case of Ms P Jiang v James Durrans Jiang Ping, a senior executive at Sheffield-based firm James Durrans & Sons, has won a discrimination case against her boss after she was denied a pay rise, with her boss reasoning that her husband’s salary meant that their household income was ‘more than enough’.

In the case of Ms P Jiang v James Durrans Jiang Ping, a senior executive at Sheffield-based firm James Durrans & Sons, has won a discrimination case against her boss after she was denied a pay rise, with her boss reasoning that her husband’s salary meant that their household income was ‘more than enough’.

Ms Ping’s husband David Armitage was a director at the firm, earning up to £270k, while, as a part-time senior executive, she was earning £36k at the time. The tribunal heard that the boss of the £35m metal products and brake linings company thought that ‘a married woman cannot challenge her salary if her husband is a high earner’.

Ms Ping asked her husband – an operations director at the company and managing director of its Chinese subsidiary – to raise the issue of her pay to the managing director Chris Durrans.

Mr Durrans’ response was that he was comfortable with the level of their combined household income. Mr Armitage said to him that he needed to talk to [Ms Ping] about the level of her salary.’

She then followed up by emailing the managing director and reiterating that her remuneration should reflect her value and significant contribution, particularly in so far as it related to the success of [the Chinese subsidiary]’.

She rightfully pointed out that the renumeration for her work had nothing to do with the fact that her husband happened to also work at the company. Accusing Mr Durrans’ comments of being discriminatory, she was said to be ‘angry’ and ‘upset’, while Mr Durrans – who had also consulted his brother, another director at the company, who agreed to reject her complaint – claimed ‘he did not understand why she said that the comment about the combined household income was sexist’.

Employment Judge Harjit Grewal agreed that the comment regarding her household income was discrimination based on sex, explaining to the hearing, ‘It is clear from the reason given for not dealing with it that Mr Durrans’ view was that a married woman cannot challenge her level of earnings if her husband is a high earner. That is a view that is inherently discriminatory against women.’

James Durrans & Sons was ordered to pay her £4,000.

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