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Norway wealth fund employee sues for workplace gender discrimination

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) -A court in Oslo on Wednesday began hearing a gender discrimination case brought by an employee at Norway’s $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund against her employer.

Elisabeth Bull Daae, head of trading analytics at Norges Bank Investment Management, is suing the unit of the central bank managing the fund for 16 million crowns ($1.54 million) in compensation and damages.

She says she was paid less than her male colleagues doing equivalent jobs for a decade.

The central bank, which pushes the firms it invests in to have more women on their boards and to combat all forms of discrimination, denies the allegations.

In the first case of its kind for the fund, some of the witnesses to be called include central bank Governor Ida Wolden Bache, fund Chief Executive Nicolai Tangen and his deputy Trond Grande, and the fund’s chief investment officer, Geir Oeyvind Nygaard.

Bull Daae is still working for the fund, one of the world’s largest investors.

She said she was also asked by some of her male colleagues to change the soap in the men’s bathroom and to check whether there was fresh milk in the fridge in a communal area.

“Are there such big differences (in work tasks) that can legitimate such large pay differences? Or are we in front of a clear, systematic case of pay discrimination based on gender?” Bull Daae’s lawyer, Sigurd Knudtzon, told the court.

The lawyer representing the fund said the relationship between employee and employer had broken down despite its efforts to improve it.

“The bank had respected her, valued her, liked her, given her exciting opportunies and tried to help her,” Jan Fougner told the court.

“They have tried for over a year to resolve this situation but this was not achievable. This is a sad case.”

($1 = 10.3987 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Mike Harrison and Angus MacSwan)