Former Arab National Bank employees make sex discrimination Employment Tribunal claim

MoJTwo female former employees of a well-known Middle-Eastern bank have brought their claims to an Employment Tribunal after they alleged that they were subjected to sexual harassment and bullying over the course of a number of years.

Maria Rayworth and Deenda Rosario Al Bazi made their claims for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal to the Central London Employment Tribunal after they alleged that they had been discriminated against and unfairly dismissed when they were fired from their jobs last year.

The women – who had worked for the National Arab Bank for over twenty years in London – alleged that they had been unfairly dismissed from their employment last year after a hacker hacked into their emails and tricked them into believing that a client had requested that $170,000 be transferred the client’s bank account to multiple accounts in America. The women, who state that they were not aware that they had been hacked, transferred the money over and were subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct after an investigation and disciplinary by the bank concluded that they should have called the client to ensure that he wanted the money transferred.

Mrs Rayworth and Mrs Bazi have since brought their claims to the Central London Employment Tribunal, claiming that they were less favourably treated than male colleagues at the bank. In particular, the women pointed to a fraudulent transaction in 2012 in which an unauthorised transfer of $520,000 was made from a client account by a male colleague and as a result of which there were no disciplinary sanctions imposed. Mrs Bazi and Mrs Rayworth also allege that the following incidents occurred during the course of their employment that support their claim that women were less favourably treated at the bank (among other things):

  • That a former chairman of the bank groped Mrs Bazi in a lift, leading to her having to physically assault him to stop that incident of alleged sexual harassment
  • That when Mrs Bazi reported the sexual harassment in the lift to her line manager, that her line manager was shocked and told him “My God, this is the chairman of the bank and you did this to the chairman of the bank; you will get into trouble for this”
  • That a former board member offered to impregnate Mrs Rayworth after asking whether she was childless
  • That a former customer asked intimate questions about Mrs Bazi’s sex life
  • That a client would grope Mrs Rayworth’s legs when sitting next to her in meetings
  • That Mrs Rayworth and Mrs Bazi, as well as other female staff, were subjected to constant harassing and bullying by two managers at the bank, Mr Afifi and Mr Blyth

The bank denies all of the allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as arguing that the two employees were fairly dismissed. In response to the bullying allegations, The National Arab Bank’s lawyer argued that all members of staff – whether male or female – were bullied by Mr Afifi.

The Employment Tribunal hearing concluded last week and a reserved judgment is expected over the next months.