Female banker makes “bunga bunga” Employment Tribunal claim

by Direct2Lawyers on July 17, 2013

  • SumoMe

A female banker has made an Employment Tribunal claim after claiming that she was subjected to discrimination at the firm that she worked for.

Ms Isabel Sitz claims that she was subjected to discrimination in the workplace and that she was forced out of her job last year by the racist and sexist culture at her employers.

Ms Sitz, 42, worked for Oppenheim Europe as the Executive Director of USE equity sales – a £95,000 per year position – until she was made redundant from her position in June 2012. She believed that she had been discriminated against in the redundancy process and that she had been subjected to sexual harassment and racial harassment prior to her dismissal. She therefore instructed employment law solicitors to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal last year.

The case came before the Employment Tribunal this month, with both Ms Sitz and bank employees giving evidence before the Employment Judge and the panel. Ms Sitz claimed in her evidence that she was told that she was not part of the “British culture” and that she felt that she had been made redundant over male colleagues because she didn’t fit in with the bonding culture of beer and rugby in the firm. Ms Sitz also claims that she witnessed a variety of racist and sexist comments and actions in the workplace, including:

  • References in emails by male colleagues to the bank being part of a “bunga bunga” culture, leading to the Bank being nicknamed “Bunga Bunga Securities” – a reference to the sex parties that were previously held by Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian President
  • Her boss, Max Lami, forcing an assistant to make lunch for him every day in the kitchen
  • Mr Lami making statements such as “Isabel, I don’t understand why my wife works. I bring in the money”
  • Mr Van Den Bergh, another of her bosses, calling the Irish “a bunch of lying, cheating, stealing time-wasters”
  • Removing Ms Sitz from the Irish accounts at the firm and handing them over to a male colleague so he could bond with the Irish clients over “beer and rugby”

Ms Sitz claims that the above remarks evidence that she was treated less favourably because she was a woman and/or that she was offended by the actions and remarks of her employer.

The Respondent denies the allegations put to it. Mr Lami, appearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal on the bank’s behalf, stated: “…she struck me as being not an easy person to deal with and someone who could not accept her own failing or bad luck” and that Ms Sitz was “caught up in a fantasy of her own making”.

Another female colleague’s of Ms Sitz’s claimed that she “[had] not felt that I had been treated in a particular way because of my sex or nationality”.

The Employment Tribunal continues and a decision is expected from the Employment Tribunal next month.

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