Partner sues PwC for race discrimination
A PricewaterhouseCoopers partner has brought a £2.6m claim for loss of earnings against his fellow partners on grounds of racial discrimination.
At a tribunal hearing in Croydon this week, Sri Lanka-born Dunstan Pedropillai, who earns more than £900,000 a year claimed he was paid less than his colleagues and assigned to inferior clients because of his skin colour, The Daily Mail reported.
After joining the firm in the late 1980s, Pedropillai was promoted to partner in 1997. Things went sour for him after he returned from a secondment to the firm’s Japanese offices in 2001. His assessments were downgraded so that he was assigned to higher risk, less prestigious clients within the firm’s banking unit, he claimed. In 2004 he was given a negative appraisal for dating a colleague (now his wife) without revealing the nature of the relationship to his bosses.
In a witness statement to the court he complained about being stuck on a low role level however much effort he put in and commented on the “strong collegiate club-like corporate culture which has its roots in Anglo-Saxon male culture”.
In his view, senior colleagues had decided that his face did not fit, and that they could not put him in front of top blue-chip clients. “They felt as a non-white I didn’t look right,” Pedropillai claimed.
On behalf of PwC, Suzanne McKie said at the tribunal that Pedropillai’s career stalled not because of his ethnicity, but his “poor people skills”.
Due to the difficult economic conditions, the firm’s banking unit had not grown significantly and had to make two white employees redundant. Pedropillai's £100,000 pay cut last year was roughly in line with an 8% cut for PwC partners across the board, she claimed.
The hearing continues.
The Pedropillai case is the second to reach the Employment Tribunals following the disability discrimination claim brought against the firm by Colin Tenner last May at the Belfast Tribunal. The decision has not yet been published in that case.