High StreetHR

Former Co-op director claims she was fired over equal pay claim

The former HR director of the Co-op, Sam Walker, has claimed she was fired from the company after raising an equal pay claim three times with then CEO Richard Pennycook.

According to a report by The Guardian Walker has warned that the retailer could be paying its male and female staff unequal wages, and will give evidence of “discrimination and an unfair dismissal” against the Co-op at an employment tribunal over the next two weeks.

She first raised the issue in 2015 after she compared her £400,000 salary to her fellow male board members, who were earning £550,000, and said she was “sacked” the year after. Walker said: “It was very clear I was talking about money at the time and I felt I was doing a job as big as them.

“I said I wanted to be valued and I’m not currently being valued. I didn’t use the word ‘victim’. It was very clear it was about pay, which is why when Pennycook rang me from Austria, it was all about pay. It was about value because I saw my role as the same value as the guys.”

She added: “However, I do not see my case simply as being about my own position. Equal pay for women generally is a matter of real importance and concern to me. I am an active member of the Fawcett Society, and am committed to the promotion of transparency and fairness for women at work.”

A Co-op spokesman said: “We do not accept that Sam Walker was discriminated against or treated detrimentally, and intend to fully and robustly defend the various claims brought by Sam.”

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