A successful female banker who was forced out of her job after being labelled “a major car crash” and a “cokehead” has won her employment tribunal claims for sexual harassment, victimisation, sex discrimination and unfair dismissal against a major eastern European bank, The Mail Online reports.
Miss Svetlana Lokhova worked for Sberbank – the biggest bank in eastern Europe – for a second time in 2011 until she resigned from her job last year because of the conduct of colleagues towards her. She subsequently made an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, victimization, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and dismissal due to protected disclosure and her case came to the employment tribunal last month.
Both Ms Lokhova and other current and former employees of the bank gave evidence at the Employment Tribunal. Ms Lokhova gave evidence that colleagues had referred to her as “mad Svetlana” and told her that she was “crazy”, “mental” and a “major car crash”. This included Ms Lokhova’s former line manager, Mr David Longmuir, who referred to the woman as “Miss Bonkers” and said that she had “unfortunate brain chemistry”. These comments were exposed in a number of emails that Mr Longmuir had sent to colleagues. As well as Mr Longmuir, the Tribunal also heard that Mr Stiskin, a senior analyst, had sent an email to a colleague on the day that she resigned stating that he knew “a few tribe leaders in Nigeria… proper alpha male… she needs to relax after the stressful period of the past months. These guys would help.” As well as harassment and bullying by her colleagues, the Employment Tribunal heard that there was a complete failure by the bank’s senior management to deal with complaints that Ms Lokhova made regarding the behaviour of her colleagues towards her.
The Employment Tribunal found in Ms Lokhova’s favour in respect of her claims for constructive unfair dismissal, victimization and sexual harassment. It stated that Paolo Zaniboni, the head of the London office of the bank, had failed to manage the situation with Mr Longmuir properly and that “his lamentable inaction caused detriment to the claimant and amounts in our view to victimization. What he should have done is suspend Mr Longmuir and ensure that a proper disciplinary process was taken against him.” It has been stated that Ms Lokova’s claim may be worth up to £5 million, although those figures are unsubstantiated.
Miss Lokhova was unavailable for comment after the release of the Employment Tribunal’s judgment.
A spokesman for Sberbank, Mr Paul Marriott, made the following statement after the judgment was released: “Although pleased that the tribunal found no wrongdoing on the part of the firm or its employees in relation to 19 complaints made by the claimant, we are disappointed that the tribunal upheld a small number of allegations.”
Chris Hadrill, an unfair dismissal solicitor at Redmans, stated: “Employers must be very careful to take swift, decisive and measured action against any employees who are harassing their colleagues – whether this harassment is sexual or otherwise. A failure to do so – as this case shows – can potentially be extremely costly.”