Commerzbank Loses Case of Woman Fired for Suing Deutsche Bank

An ex-Commerzbank AG director won her employment tribunal case against the German lender for firing her when it discovered she was suing her previous employer, Deutsche Bank AG, for sexual discrimination.

Latifa Bouabdillah was “victimized” by Commerzbank, Judge Alexandra Davidson in London said in a written ruling dated April 11. While Bouabdillah is seeking about 13 million pounds ($20 million), the employment tribunal hasn’t yet ruled on how much she will get in compensation.

Bouabdillah joined Commerzbank as head of product engineering in March 2012, and didn’t tell managers she was suing Deutsche Bank for promoting male colleagues ahead of her and giving them larger bonuses. Commerzbank staff read about the tribunal suit in a Bloomberg News story, warned her she had put the bank’s reputation at risk, then fired her in June, Judge Davidson said in the ruling.

Commerzbank “had a knee-jerk reaction to the information that came to light,” Davidson said. The tribunal rejected Bouabdillah’s argument that Commerzbank had also discriminated based on her gender.

Bank employees including a depressed Credit Suisse Group AG credit trader, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s head of CDO trading and a Credit Agricole SA whistle-blower have all sued at London employment tribunals in the last year saying they were improperly treated. Damages for unfair firing are normally capped at about 70,000 pounds unless there is proof of discrimination or other wrongdoing.

Real Reasons

Commerzbank said in an e-mailed statement it would consider its options after the ruling. The bank said Bouabdillah was fired because she breached its trust by not revealing the real reason she left Deutsche Bank.

“Honesty and trustworthiness are paramount to the bank and its customers,” the Frankfurt-based bank said.

Tim Johnson, her lawyer, said the tribunal found she hadn’t misled Commerzbank and had acted honestly and professionally. Bouabdillah settled her suit against Deutsche Bank on confidential terms, he said. Kathryn Hanes, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank, declined to comment.

The tribunal will hold a hearing in September to decide how much compensation Commerzbank should pay Bouabdillah.

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