This post was contributed by Ms Charlotte Crilly, Teaching Fellow and Module Convenor for Undergraduate Laws.
A female television presenter, Samira Ahmed, has won her equal pay claim in the Employment Tribunal against the BBC (the English national broadcaster). Her claim was that she had been underpaid by £700,000 compared to a male television presenter, Jeremy Vine. Samira Ahmed was paid £440 per episode for the programme Newswatch, while Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 for the programme Points of View.
The BBC’s argument was that the two presenters performed very different roles, and the programmes they presented were very different. They tried to argue that Jeremy Vine’s programme was lighter in tone, and required him to have a ‘glint in the eye’ and a more humorous approach. They denied that any difference in pay was due to gender.
The Employment Tribunal found that the work done by the two presenters was alike, and that the BBC had not proved the pay difference was not due to sex discrimination. The judgment noted that the difference in pay was ‘striking’ and that Jeremy Vine was paid more than six times as much as Samira Ahmed for doing the same work. The burden of proof was on the BBC to show that the difference did not amount to sex discrimination, and it had failed to do so.
The tribunal did not find that the pay differences were justified by differences in the presenters’ roles and programmes. They dismissed any argument about a ‘glint in the eye’, or that this translated into any particular skill or talent to do the job.
You can read more about this story in the BBC articles ‘Samira Ahmed wins BBC equal pay tribunal’ (10 January 2020) (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-50599080). The BBC article ‘Samira Ahmed case: What is equal pay?’ (10 January 2020) (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50168817) explains some more of the legal background to the case, and other recent high-profile equal pay cases.