Partner at PwC Claims Racial Discrimination

Lucas Gilmore, “Big 4″ observer
January 26, 2011 /

Dunstan Pedropillai, 47, a Sri Lankan who has been working at PricewaterhouseCoopers for 25 years now on £933,480 annual salary, is charging the accountancy firm for slashing his pay allegedly on grounds of racial discrimination.

“I believe I have been treated less favourably by PwC on the grounds of my race in comparison to my peers. I am stuck on a very low role level. However hard I pump my accelerator I am never going to get up to the kind of income level other partners have got. The original culture of the firm is an extremely strong collegiate club-like corporate culture which has its roots in Anglo-Saxon male culture,” said Pedropillai in a statement to an employment tribunal.

Pedropillai claimed that his PwC bosses attenuated his salary to the lowest rate for a partner because he is a non-white, despite showing ‘exceptional professional and interpersonal skills’ according to his legal counsel Christopher Jeans. Jeans said Pedropillai, who joined PwC in 1986 as an audit specialist, has regularly been promoted in the company and was eventually made one of its partners in 1997, one year ahead of the regular promotion to partnership.

Pedropillai further claimed that after finishing his role in PwC Japan on 2001, the firm has since assigned him to smaller companies facing higher risks. He said he was used to deal before with large banks such as Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

“The firm felt they could not put me in front of blue-chip top tier clients – they felt as a non-white I didn’t look right,” he said.

Now, Pedropillai is seeking £2.6million from PwC for allegedly losing a great amount of his salary and benefits due to the racial discrimination. An investigation prior to the suit found that his current pay was not reasonable, but PwC allegedly did nothing to redress the losses of the partner.

His lawyer said Pedropillai was even threatened by Andrew Smith, head of partner affairs, in 2005 that he would be kicked out of the firm if he pointed to racial discrimination as the cause of his salary deduction.

However, a representative from PwC, Suzanne McKie, belied Pedropillai’s allegations of racial discrimination for his reduced pay, pointing to the partner’s ‘poor people skills’. McKie added that two of Pedropillai’s co-partners were even made redundant following the marginal growth in their unit amid the economic crisis.

On the issue of the 12 percent deduction from Pedropillai’s pay, McKie said it was the result of the 8 percent reduction in the pay of partners across the board, and not due to racial discrimination.


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