Ex-Commerzbank banker wins $370,000 in sex discrimination claim

A Commerzbank logo is pictured before the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt
A Commerzbank logo is pictured before the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
  • Senior banker wins award after near seven-year battle
  • Employment tribunal says she had a 60% chance of promotion
  • Commerzbank in early stages of appeal

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - A female former Commerzbank compliance officer has been awarded 300,685 pounds ($368,880) after winning a sex and maternity discrimination and harassment claim in a London tribunal following a near seven-year battle against the German bank.

Jagruti Rajput, a former deputy head of markets compliance who joined Commerzbank in 2012, sued the bank in 2017, arguing she had been passed over for promotion, sidelined and her prospects crushed in the run-up to and following maternity leave in 2016.

It is unusual for such cases to play out in court because the vast majority settle, often because employers are wary of the reputational damage of airing internal disputes in open court.

The Central London Employment Tribunal ruled she had a 60% chance of being promoted had she not been subjected to unlawful discrimination - a key consideration when calculating financial compensation - in a judgment published on Monday.

Commerzbank, which has successfully appealed elements of the case, said it was disappointed with the tribunal's decision on liability and was in the early stages of an appeal.

"The bank strives to offer an inclusive working environment and does not tolerate workplace discrimination of any sort," the bank said in a statement.

Rajput's lawyer was not immediately available for comment outside work hours.

Rajput had sought almost 580,000 pounds, arguing she would have had an 80% chance of being promoted in a fair process.

However, one senior banker said she had an "unhealthy obsession with work" and another called her "controlling", she was discouraged from attending meetings while on maternity leave and was denied managerial parts of her work on her return.

Rajput said this upended her health and career prospects, leading to a breakdown in 2018, suicidal thoughts, paralysing flashbacks and panic attacks.

The tribunal awarded her just over 201,650 pounds for loss of salary, bonus and pension payments and 25,000 pounds for injury to feelings plus interest. It did not make an award for an additional claim of aggravated damages and to cover the costs of training or psychotherapy, the judgment showed.

($1 = 0.8151 pounds)

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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