By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON (Reuters) – A former London-based Commerzbank compliance officer is seeking almost 580,000 pounds ($707,000) in compensation after winning a sex and maternity discrimination and harassment case following a near eight-year battle against the German bank.
Jagruti Rajput, who joined Commerzbank in 2012 and rose to deputy head of markets compliance, has twice won parts of a discrimination claim she first brought in 2017 after she was passed over for promotion and argued her job was marginalized in the run-up to and following maternity leave in 2016.
Elaine Banton, a lawyer for Rajput, told a remedy hearing at London’s central employment tribunal on Monday that her client had been denied a promotion and effectively demoted and crushed in what amounted to egregious discrimination and serious injury to feelings.
Rajput said in court documents that the drawn-out case, which turns in part on whether she was the best candidate for head of markets if the process had been fair, had upended her life, health and career prospects, leading to a breakdown in 2018, suicidal thoughts, paralysing flashbacks and panic attacks.
“I feel I’m not happy doing anything. I used to love everything about my life and now I feel nothing,” she said in documents filed with the court and seen by Reuters on Monday.
It is unusual for such cases to come to court because the vast majority settle before trial, often because employers are wary of the reputational damage of airing internal disputes in open court.
Commerzbank has appealed elements of the case and on Monday called parts of Rajput’s claim, which includes 285,772 pounds for financial loss, 45,000 pounds for injury to feelings, 50,000 pounds for aggravated damages and almost 50,000 for training and mentoring courses, “wholly disproportionate”.
The bank accepts that she is due a “significant sum” for injury of feelings – although it vigorously disputes the level.
“As an employer, we are committed to equal opportunities in our workplace,” a Commerzbank spokesperson said.
Rajput was subsequently made redundant in 2020 when Commerzbank sold its equities and commodities markets business to French peer Societe Generale.
The two-day hearing is due to conclude on Tuesday.
($1 = 0.8207 pounds)
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, additional reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Susan Fenton)