08 November 2013 #Employment
The Times reports today on the case of a female equity salesperson who has won her employment tribunal case where she claimed that she had her £95,000 salary cut to the £6.08 per hour minimum wage “because she was a woman”. There was a sexist culture where male bankers referred to their firm as “Bunga-Bunga Securities”. After succeeding in her sex discrimination claim, she is seeking substantial compensation.
Isabel Sitz, said that her male colleagues at Oppenheimer Europe compared the firm to parties held by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In her evidence, Ms Sitz said: “I couldn’t believe this was being sent around. Of course I was offended by this kind of thing. “There were many comments about bunga bunga, that was done all the time. Bunga bunga refers to erotic parties with sexual favours dispensed to men by women, which to my mind was demeaning.”
The tribunal heard that at one time, Ms Sitz was the firm’s best performer, bringing in 12 per cent of its total revenue. She claimed that her performance plummeted after her boss gave the best work to “his boys” and had her Irish accounts removed and given to a male colleague who could take the clients to rugby matches. It was also said that it would not be appropriate her to accompany make clients on hunting trips.
Her boss reportedly gave evidence that Ms Sitz was “caught up in a fantasy of her own making” after losing clients adding “Increasingly I think the reality is that Isabel’s claim against Oppenheimer is a deliberate and cynical attempt to extract money from Oppenheimer.
It would appear that the tribunal did not accept the employer’s evidence, although the claim of race discrimination on the basis of Ms Sitz’s Spanish origin was not accepted. The tribunal found that the firm had “falsely claimed there has been a real investigation” into Ms Sitz’s complaints.
It will be interesting to see whether the tribunal decides to make an aggravated damages award in this case.