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Victimisation by new employer

In a recent Employment Tribunal claim, an employer was found to have victimised an employee by treating her less favourably due to a Tribunal claim she had raised against her previous employer.

Ms Bouabdillah resigned as Vice President for Deutsche Bank in 2011, and raised a Tribunal claim for sex discrimination, alleging that male colleagues had been promoted ahead of her and received larger bonuses. The case was settled out of court. Ms. Bouabdillah then went on to join Commerzbank. She was dismissed by them six days after her sex discrimination claim against Deutsche Bank became public. Ms Bouabdillah raised a claim for victimisation and direct sex discrimination against Commerzbank.

Commerzbank claimed that they had been suspicious about Ms Bouabdillah’s motivation for resigning from Deustche Bank and had made repeated enquiries of her recruitment consultant as to why she had left. They had been assured that the reasons for leaving was that she wished to move to a smaller team and to have more responsibility and recognition. Commerzbank then became aware of the Tribunal claim and felt that Ms Bouabdillah had caused a breach of trust and confidence because she made the deliberate decision to withhold information from them about her true reason for leaving her previous employment.

The Tribunal found that Ms Bouabdillah did not mislead Commerzbank; when asked direct questions, she gave direct answers. Even if these were not entirely full answers, it was not a matter of being misled or dishonest. The Tribunal also found that there was no evidence that she had neglected her duties or acted unprofessionally during her time at Commerzbank.

The Tribunal found that Ms Bouabdillah had been dismissed because she had brought tribunal proceedings against her previous employer and that, therefore, she had been victimised by Commerzbank. However, her claim for direct sex discrimination was dismissed. A Remedies Hearing is due to be held in September which will determine the level of compensation Ms Bouabdillah will be paid (she is apparently claiming £13 million).

This case shows that an employee can claim victimisation if their employer treats them less favourably because of discrimination claims made against a previous employer.

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