Ad manager claims sex discrimination

A SENIOR advertising manager has accused her former boss of being “callous” and a co-worker of “bullying” after she was refused part-time hours so she could look after he severely disabled daughter.

Will Clarke

A SENIOR advertising manager has accused her former boss of being “callous” and a co-worker of “bullying” after she was refused part-time hours so she could look after he severely disabled daughter.

Sally Austin, 45, has accused her former employer - Anglia Newspapers - of disability and sex discrimination after the firm rejected her request. She brought her case to an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds yesterday.

Ms Austin resigned as the Bury-based motoring advertising manager for the Bury Free Press newspaper on May 25 last year after working for the firm since she was 17.

The mother-of-four said she valued and enjoyed working for the company but she felt her bosses had not properly considered her request to work 16 hours a week and the atmosphere in the office had become difficult as a result.

In her evidence to the tribunal panel, Ms Austin said the situation had transpired after she separated from her long-term partner last year and she needed to spend more time caring for her disabled three-year-old daughter.

Most Read

She said she wanted to keep her position with the possibility of sharing her job with a colleague. However, she found her boss Peter Hoxley's attitude was “not open minded” and she did not feel he considered the possibility of her working part-time.

Instead, Ms Austin said she was offered a part-time role she declined because it involved “soul destroying” cold calling.

It was during this time Ms Austin said she was taken ill with exhaustion but on her return to work she found clients had been crossed from her books and handed to a colleague, Kim Harris, “without consultation”.

After this point she said her relationship with Mrs Harris deteriorated to the level of “harassment and bullying” despite conciliation meetings.

“I felt I had to fight for my job as well as all I was going through,” she said. “So I wanted to do (the motoring managerial) job for four weeks on 16 hours to prove I could do it.”

Ms Austin supplied testimonials to the tribunal from customers showing their satisfaction with her service even during the trial four-week spell, which she was allowed to complete.

But it was at the end of this time she was told by Mr Hoxley - who she said she was unable to trust because he could be “callous” - that the managerial role was not possible to fulfil on that part-time basis. It was after this meeting that she resigned, the tribunal heard.

In addition to the charge of disability discrimination, Mrs Austin is also claiming Anglia Newspapers' refusal of her part-time request was discriminatory against her sex because the majority of part-time employees in the industry were women.

The case continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter