City Banker Sacked Over Gender-bias Case Against Former Firm, Tribunal Told

Showing You The Door

A City banker was sacked from her £150,000-a-year job after her boss discovered she was suing her old bank for sexual discrimination, a tribunal has heard.

Latifa Bouabdillah claims Commerzbank sacked her when it found out she was suing Deutsche Bank for over £1m in damages for alleged sexual discrimination.

Bouabdillah resigned as a vice-president at Deutsche Bank in 2011 and launched a lawsuit claiming that male colleagues were promoted ahead of her and received bonus payments three times higher than hers.

She told Central London employment tribunal on Tuesday that Commerzbank sacked her days after it found out about her suit against Deutsche Bank.

Bouabdillah is now also suing Commerzbank for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal.

She told the court she had tried to keep the Deutsche Bank case secret from Commerzbank because she was worried that if it found out the company would not offer her the post with its "exotic vanilla funds team".

When news of her lawsuit against Deutsche Bank became public last summer Commerzbank told her she had put its reputation "at risk" and the matter had been referred to "very senior" people in the bank's head office in Germany.

"So I understood that this was causing big issues internally," she said in a witness statement. "This worried me a lot. I could see that this was potentially very damaging to my career with the respondent and my career in general.

"They asked me if this was the first time I had sued an institution, I said yes and I am not intending to do it again and that the job with the respondent would allow me to move on with my life."

She claims that the bank's human resources partner, Nigel Marsden, compared her to a criminal, and she was left feeling "distressed, demeaned and humiliated".

"Nigel compared me to someone who had been shoplifting and said that should be disclosed. I was shocked and said how could he compare me to a shoplifter, and said there was no similarity between my case and shoplifting. I said that I was the victim in my claims.

"I said that I didn't understand why this was such an issue for them. It seemed to me that they were just looking for an excuse to dismiss me.

"The meeting upset me a lot. I had been compared to a criminal. I felt that for him I was guilty until proven innocent. I left the meeting feeling terrible, humiliated and very worried about my future."

Bouabdillah was dismissed on 11 June 2012, six days after her Deutsche Bank sex discrimination case became public and less than a month after she joined Commerzbank.

Commerzbank denies the allegations and claims she was dismissed because she had broken the bank's trust. Guy Middleton, head of sales and trading at its exotic vanilla funds team, said he was suspicious about why Bouabdillah had left Deutsche Bank and repeatedly asked her recruitment consultant, but was assured it was because she wanted to move to a smaller team.

"I was initially unsure whether Latifa should remain in the team as I initially thought that the trust between her and the team might be recoverable," he said. "But as time went on I felt that she had made a conscious and considered decision to withhold information, which made me feel that she could no longer be trusted."

The hearing was adjourned while the tribunal considers its judgment.

Boubdillah's lawyer and Deutsche Bank did not respond to queries about whether the Deutsche Bank case is still active.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rupert Neate and agencies, for The Guardian on Tuesday 19th March 2013 21.16 Europe/London

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