29 March 2012
The launch will take place today in London of the Women’s Equality Network (WEN), an organisation formed by the ex-BBC presenter Miriam O’Reilly and the lawyer who successfully fought her age discrimination case against the BBC, Camilla Palmer.
WEN aims to provide support and advice for women facing discrimination in the workplace through an online forum where women can share their experiences and provide support and advice to help resolve disputes.
Miriam O’Reilly, the patron of WEN, won her case against the BBC in January 2011 after an employment tribunal found that the corporation had victimised her. The tribunal heard how she was denied several opportunities to present TV and radio shows after it was assumed she had spoken out on the subject of ageism.
She returned to the BBC after winning her case. However, in an interview published in the Guardian last week she said that the offer of employment was "a damage-limitation exercise" by the corporation and that there was “seething resentment” from some BBC executives when she did return.
On the launch of WEN Miriam O’Reilly said:
“Many women feel isolated when faced with discrimination at work. The comments and behaviour I had to face both during my legal action and more worryingly after the tribunal had found in my favour, right up to the present day, show how women can be discouraged from exercising their legal rights.
“Discrimination can affect your confidence, and make you question your abilities and actions. It is hurtful, causes stress and anxiety and can be immensely isolating.
“WEN will provide a safe network for women so they won't feel on their own. I found that reaching out and sharing knowledge and experience with others was empowering."
Camilla Palmer, the lawyer who represented Miriam in her legal action against the BBC, co-founder of WEN and head of employment at law firm Leigh Day & Co said:
“We see three key stages of discrimination throughout a woman’s career; these are incidents of sexual harassment in relation to younger women. Pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave can lead to the most outrageous behavior from managers. Finally, when women reach an age when most men are at the peak of their earning potential through experience, women are often deemed too old especially, but not exclusively, in the media.
“WEN is a positive move to enable more women to understand their rights. It also tells them that they aren’t alone and crucially what to do to effectively resolve disputes.”
Your can follow WEN on Twitter @WomenENet
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