Case in Focus – Splunk Services UK Ltd

scale of justice

Lee vs Splunk Services UK Ltd

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (binding on other Employment Tribunals) has held that a Sales Executive had been discriminated against at her workplace in what she described as an ‘old boys’ network.’

What happened?

Ms Lee worked for Splunk since 2013. She was promoted a year later and was earning substantially more by 2018. There were a number of positive indications that she was doing well in her role, not least landing two significant deals with two clients. After this time, she was granted a six-month period of unpaid leave to “recharge” as a goodwill gesture, and her role would be there for when she returned. During her leave, her role was being carried out by a male employee, and her clients had been handed over to the male employee, who was also earning a higher basic salary.

The Hearings

The employment tribunal found in favour of Ms Lee, finding that she had been unfairly constructively dismissed and that her less favourable treatment was because of her sex. They noted great concern regarding email communications, and the way these had been constructed in order to avoid having to disclose data under a subject access request. She was also successful in her equal pay claim. The remedy hearing will follow shortly.

Takeaway points

  • Don’t try to anonymise data to escape data protection liabilities, if it is obvious who the email is about then this is sufficient for it to be disclosable.
  • Ensure you are pay benchmarking and can justify whether there is a material difference between roles, in order to explain pay differences between men and women.
  • Be as open as you can be with employees – the employer in this case should have looked into the grievance more carefully.

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