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Calling Women “birds” is sexist says out of touch Judge John Crosfill

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 21 September 2021

Thank heavens I don’t employ any pieces of skirt, as I must now refer to birds, following Judge John Crosfill ruling today that using the phrase “birds” is sexist. Whatever. I have been using it for years and have no intention of stopping. What is more telling for me is just how out of touch Crosfill is with how the world, my world, of the City actually works. Let me explain why Crosfill, in ruling for plaintiff Anca Lacatus, shows that he should be put out to grass.

Anca was, as I was more than three decades ago, a graduate trainee, a first jobber after university. She earned an astonishing £46,500. But she was like many “grads” made redundant after a relatively short time. So, as it happens, was I. That is the way the City works. It hires a stack of grads knowing that some won’t work out, and those that don’t make the cut are fired.

Most folks just accept that they did not make the cut and either get another job in the City or view it as a lucky escape and go and do something less pointless. But Ms Lacatus sued on grounds of sexual discrimination and though she did not actually raise this matter at the time and when her boss was challenged about using the bird word he eventually stopped, natch she has won her case.

She also sued Barclays claiming that it failed to accommodate her request to adjust her working hours because she suffered from endometriosis and anxiety. Ms Lacatus was often expected to work late past 7pm and worked between 40 and 48 hours a week on average, the tribunal in London heard. Hell’s teeth if she was doing 48 hours a week she would have been a true part timer. That is the deal with investment banking. You work ludicrous hours, starting at 7 AM when the financial markets open and often finishing at well past ten at night and for that you get paid shed loads. Everybody knows the deal when they apply for a job, it is never hidden.

But clearly Judge Crosfill reckons that if staff, knowing the hours when they sign up, for whatever reason cannot do anything like the hours of their peers, must still be employed on the full whack of almost a grand a week. Which really is a remarkable screw for someone just out of university.  

Isn’t Anca a lucky bird? She will get a stonking payout based on lost possible earnings with the sex and disability discrimination chucked into the determination. As someone who will never ever make another staff hire so cannot be sued for failing to offer a bird a job, I can say what so many employers think: Folks like Anca & Judge Crosfill are a good reason not to hire women in the first place. The risk to the employer is just that much greater than in hiring an equally qualified man.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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