Just days after David Garrett published his report on Hannah Bouveng, the Wall Street intern who pocketed an obscene $18 million in punitive damages for sexual harassment, English papers publish details of a finance worker seeking £7 million in compensation from a German bank because its “frat club” culture made her feel excluded on the trading floor.
Forex manager Jenus Fiouzi claims that key decisions at Commerzbank were made at men-only boozing sessions to which she was not invited. Do these women have legitimate grievances which are grave enough to warrant punitive damage that runs to the £millions, or is litigation against the employer simply another career move for female employees who want to be given something for nothing?
Fiouzi, who was on a £130,000 salary in Commerzbank’s London office, is claiming the £7 million for “injury to feelings,” unfair dismissal, and sex and race discrimination. She says of the culture at the Bank, which sacked her in October 2014, was that of a
German male-dominated environment, especially in the senior management ranks. On and off the trading floor there was a German ‘boys’ club’ culture at the bank, which I would describe as akin to a college fraternity or frat club. There were no senior female managers in sales that I can recall.
She complains that some of the traders at the bank would go out for drinks after work, whilst failing to invite her. She describes how her German colleagues would discuss work matters at these drinks, from which she was excluded: “It then became evident to me that decisions about work matters were being taken during drinking sessions because when the same matters later came up in the office, I was out of the loop.”
With particularly lucid analysis she notes: “The men’s social relationships really strengthened their working relationships, so by excluding me from the social side, I felt they put up a barrier at work.”
Fiouzi says that the men used to talk across her in the office in their native German, which she doesn’t speak, adding: “This excluded me and made me feel uncomfortable and marginalised. There genuinely were two sets of rules. One for German men and one for me.” Commerzbank denies the allegations, and say Fiouzi was “disruptive” and was sacked due to performance shortcomings.
A last roll of the dice
Fiouzi’s trial is ongoing, so it looks difficult to judge the merit of complaints simply on the statements that have been published. But one thing is clear: big-money claims by women in corporate and city jobs have now become a routine career move for female employees in male-dominated industries in the UK.
Whereas there are not many British cases that touch the rank absurdity of US cases like Ellen Pao and the “oppressed” Hanna Bouveng, English Employment Tribunals have seen a steady trickle of cases brought by grievance-mongering female employees.
- In February 2015, a city lawyer, Margaret Rowe, sued the asset management firm she worked for because a department head showed other employees a full-frontal painting of his wife. Her manager told the tribunal manager, that Rowe constantly made aggressive and false accusations that she was being treated differently because she was a woman.
- In April 2013, a woman banker won her sex discrimination claim against her new employer after they sacked her, having found out that she was making a sex discrimination claim against her old employer. The woman was suing the old bank for allegedly promoting men ahead of her. She lost her sex discrimination claim but won on “victimisation” due to the way she as treated
- In May 2010 a lawyer sacked by leading firm Allen & Overy sued for sex discrimination after they gave her the heave-ho for writing an erotic novel. She complained of ‘sexual persecution’ by her 60-year old boss, but then started writing a newspaper column bearing such surprising comments as “The human male has evolved to slap his slutty woman.”
- In April 2010 two women brought £3 million compensation claims against Nomura, the Japanese bank, complaining that they had had to hear taunts that women “belonged cleaning floors.” Their claim was thrown out after the tribunal found that the “remarks were trivial, not intended to be offensive”
- In June 2008, a lawyer who sued her finance firm employer for £19 million for sexist bullying was revealed to have been going on interviews for high-powered jobs whilst claiming to be “mentally disabled” and unable to work
- In April 2001, an analyst at a leading city brokerage was paid £1.4 million in compensation after suing her firm for sex discrimination. Her gripe was that she was paid a bonus of £25,000, far less than some of her male colleagues. The bank doubled the bonus to £50,000, even though the woman had had cancer and then became pregnant at the relevant time.
Not only the suits are at it
And if the city cases are not enough to go round, there are also ample cases involving straight-up cases of women being shoe-horned into male professions and then crying foul when they are dispensed with for not being able to do their jobs. These cases include:
- In May 2014, a female chef had her claim against her restaurant employer thrown out. She told the tribunal there was a “culture of sexist behaviour and language” and said she was locked in a freezer and her bum was slapped. The Tribunal chairman said in his ruling that: “We find that on numerous occasions Chloe Maisey lied or wildly embellished facts to embolden her claims. She left because she couldn’t handle the long hours.”
- In February 2014, Two female police officers who sued their employer and won £70,000 for providing guns that were too big for their hands and protective gear too big for their heads.
- In February 2012 a female firefighter, Katie Reid, sued her employer, East Sussex Fire Authority, for sex discrimination, after they took her off duty because she was too short to do her job. East Sussex settled the case.
The newest racket in town
And there are many, many more that there is no space to republish here. Employment Tribunals in the UK have become a casino for women who, thrown into the brutal realities of male-dominated environments, find themselves on the one hand told by their social programming that “women are the same as men” and on the other hand given feedback from the environment that perhaps they are not the hot shit that Cosmo told them they are.
Once in this quandary they look for something to blame, and what better mechanism to relieve them of personal responsibility than the UK’s draconian and corrosive “equality” legislation?
The Equality Act of 2010, the last piece of legislative vandalism signed into law by a Labour party ready for decades of political wilderness ahead, consolidates all previous minority-worshipping, grievance-enabling legislations into one compact Act. The act is a restatement of the classic, liberal formulations of “discrimination,” enacted to EU standards and mirrored in US legislation.
More precisely, it bears the “two bites of the cherry” liberal formulation of discrimination: direct and indirect discrimination. You are directly discriminated if you are treated less favourably because you are a woman, you are indirectly discriminated if some measure, all things being equal, affects more women negatively more than it does than men.
This two-level configuration gives chancers and supplicants a million and one angles to sue their employers for on the most spurious of grounds. The physical aptitude or characteristics cases above are a case in point. If the police department does not spend ridiculous money to accommodate women by sourcing smaller guns or by lowering fitness thresholds, the it is being “discriminatory.” The tail is wagging the dog.
The Equality Act also carries forward the notion of “harassment,” which, as we have seen from the American notion in the Hannah Bouveng, can persist even where the “victim” is willfully engaging in sex with her alleged “harasser.” Harassment is a catch-all provision which allows any behaviour, no matter how innocuous, to be presented as evidence of a vile excrescence of the male locker-room.
Modern feminism is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Women are strong and weak, vulnerable and domineering, capable as any man at the same time as needing accommodation, all in the same breath.
In order to achieve true workplace equality, and allow strong women to thrive in male workplaces without being stigmatised by chancers playing the “woman card,” the Conservative government must repeal all equality legislation and remove from the purview of Employment Tribunals any right to adjudicate on petty grievances based on sex, gender or race.
Only by denying the chancers the trump cards up their sleeves will we return to a truly competitive economy based on merit, rather than competition of victimhoods.