U.K. police official sues for discrimination, says black female colleague makes much more for same job

A white police inspector in the U.K. Home Office (roughly equivalent to the United States’ Homeland Security Department) has filed a lawsuit alleging gender and racial discrimination. “It is fundamentally unfair to pay people wildly different amounts for doing what is, by any measure, identical work,” the inspector insisted.

Matthew Parr, a former British Navy officer who achieved the rank of rear admiral, alleges that he is receiving about 37 percent less pay than Wendy Williams, a black woman who was hired in the same job about a year and a half earlier.

As a Home Office inspector, with wide-ranging job duties overseeing several large law enforcement agencies apparently similar to those of an internal affairs investigator in law enforcement, Parr reportedly earns approximately $187,000 (plus an $11,000 sweetener for London living expenses) when his salary is converted to American dollars. Williams reportedly receives about $258,000.

Parr claims that his “ham-fisted,” risk-adverse bosses paid Williams at the top of the salary scale, even though they were allegedly trying to cut costs at the time, because they were afraid of a discrimination suit from her and related “reputational damage.”

That they had allegedly hired another white guy at a top rate before Williams compounded their concerns. Parr has named Priti Patel, the U.K. Home Secretary in Boris Johnson’s conservative government, as the defendant in the employment discrimination lawsuit. Patel has denied the allegations.

Patel’s lawyer claims that “If Mr Parr had been a black woman, he would have received the same response” in the context of the pay structure that had then been implemented when Parr was hired.

Parr has conceded that he is already making above-average money, but equity is the objective of his legal challenge that he is pursuing in the Central London employment tribunal.

“I am a white man. I recognise I am not the typical claimant in cases of equal pay and discrimination. I also recognise I am paid a relatively high salary. Were all HMIs to be paid the salary currently paid to me I would be satisfied. The only difference between her treatment and mine is that she was placed at the top of the band, rather than at the bottom,” Parr asserted.

“This is a question of fairness. I am a white male — my race and sex had a clear influence in the first and later decisions on my pay,” he added. “It is also a policy that was influenced by race and sex. It was only revised as a consequence of Wendy Williams’ favourable treatment,” Metro UK (which uses the British spelling of recognize and favorable) reported.

Parr’s lawsuit “is believed to be the first case of its kind and could set a precedent for future sex and race discrimination cases,” the London Telegraph noted.

A London employment judge is expected to render a decision in the case in the coming weeks. Either party can presumably lodge an appeal if they are dissatisfied with the outcome, It remains to be seen if Parr has put forth enough evidence to establish bias in his terms and conditions of employment.

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Robert Jonathan

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