Sacked IPC journalist was sex discrimination victim

Yachting monthly

 

A journalist sacked from her post as assistant editor on IPC’s Yachting Monthly has had her claim that she was a victim of sex discrimination upheld by an employment tribunal.

It ruled that Alison Molyneaux was victimised because she was a woman and that her dismissal was unfair.

The tribunal criticised the title’s then editor, James Jermain, IPC’s head of personnel and the company as a whole for not implementing its own equal opportunities policy. A subsequent claim against the company for breach of contract was dismissed.

The first claim was submitted in December 1997 after Molyneaux was fired from her job after a year on the magazine. She submitted a second claim in February 1999 after IPC bought a magazine, International Boat Industry, for which she had been freelancing since the dismissal.

She had been offered the post of assistant editor and there was a verbal agreement that she would start in January.

However, once IPC had bought the magazine it told her she could not take the job because of her complaints against the company.

Following the second claim, she was no longer allowed to freelance for IPC’s yachting titles.

The tribunal did not support her claim that IPC had breached her contract of employment because her job offer at International Boat Industry had not been put into writing.

Molyneaux complained that during her time at Yachting Monthly she was continually undermined and excluded from editorial decisions and social occasions. She had started work in December 1996 but her name was not put on the masthead until the following July.

As the only female writer on the magazine, she found that the conversation in the office could be offensive and intimidating. She did not feel welcome at social events with her male colleagues. Jermain told the tribunal that he was not happy with the standard of Molyneaux’s work and that she was not experienced enough to hold the position of assistant editor.

The tribunal found that, while it was legitimate for Jermain to have concerns over her work, he failed to make these clear during her probationary period, nor did he keep a record of his criticisms.

Molyneaux said: "While I am delighted at the outcome of my case, the nightmare isn’t over.

"My career has been blighted. I am a specialist yachting journalist but the majority of yachting titles are owned by IPC, for whom I am not allowed to work."

Molyneaux’s claim against IPC was backed by the NUJ and she was represented by the union’s solicitors, Thompsons. What compensation she will receive will be decided at a remedy hearing yet to be fixed.

 

By Mary Stevens

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