College faces third sex case

February 2, 1996

A church college run by a former member of the Equal Opportunities Commission is facing its third accusation of sexual discrimination.

During a recent wave of redundancies Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education is alleged to have unfairly dismissed Evelyn Henson, a senior administrator who says she was a victim of sexual discrimination. Last year the college had to compensate a female technology lecturer in an out of court settlement after she told a tribunal that the college's performance-related pay scheme discriminated against women.

A third sexual discrimination case involving a female head of department is due to come to tribunal in a few weeks, according to lecturers' union Natfhe.

Ms Henson said she regarded the college as accountable for its actions towards staff. "The internal appeal systems seem to have failed to deliver a fair solution on two occasions now despite the presence of representatives of the college's church foundation, the Gloucestershire Health Authority and the local business community."

Chris Turner, assistant director of the college, said he could not comment directly on individual cases until the tribunal had been heard but he said Ms Henson's was a "straightforward redundancy".

"The normal procedures were followed to the letter," Professor Turner said. "This is a Christian caring college and about 50 per cent of all our staff are women."

Natfhe points out however that with the exception of the director, Janet Trotter, only a fraction of senior members of staff are women.

The Natfhe spokesman said that of nine academic heads of department just one was a woman and there was just one female dean. All three assistant directors of the college were male.

The five redundancies an-nounced recently were all women.

Professor Turner said the redundancy programme had been difficult but added that he was saddened by the campaign being run by Natfhe. "The college has a strong equal opportunities policy which was recently audited internally," he said. "We are not saying everything here is favourable but we do have a strong commitment to equal opportunities and a high proportion of 12 new appointments at professorial and reader level were women."

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