Manchester on sex bias charges

April 10, 1998

Manchester University is facing two further complaints of discrimination four months after an industrial tribunal ruled that the university "failed dismally" to follow equal opportunities procedures, writes Phil Baty.

In December last year a tribunal said that the university's handling of its seven-year race discrimination dispute with law lecturer Asif Qureshi was a matter of "sadness and shame". The university was found guilty of discrimination and Dr Qureshi was paid record damages of Pounds 44,880, for the "apathy and hostility" he had faced.

Now the university faces two sex discrimination disputes, with both cases due to be heard at Manchester Industrial Tribunal within the next few months.

Last month the university failed in a bid to quash action by engineering lecturer Valerie Leavers over alleged "unlawfully discriminatory behaviour".

The university's solicitor tried to get Dr Leavers' complaints ruled "out of time" - too late after the events to be within the tribunal's jurisdiction. But the tribunal chairman ruled that it would be "dangerous to try to form a view, without a full investigation of the evidence".

Dr Leavers is arguing that "there was a continuous course of conduct towards her I motivated by reason of her gender". A date for the full hearing has yet to be set.

The university is facing a second sex discrimination action, by lecturer Joan Watson in the earth science department. Her preliminary hearing, originally planned for April , but postponed due to Dr Watson's ill health, will take place on May 11.

A new training programme in equal opportunities is now under way at the university. All staff on interview panels have to have at least a half-day of training.

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