Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Fired Commerzbank Trader Loses Suit Claiming Bank Like a 'Frat'

Updated on
  • Jenus Fiouzi claimed managers spoke German to exclude her
  • Judge finds the bank had `valid' reasons to dismiss Fiouzi

A former Commerzbank AG director, who said she was discriminated against in an environment more akin to a fraternity and excluded from discussions held in German, lost her employment suit against the bank.

Jenus Fiouzi, a senior currency hedge-fund saleswoman in London, claimed she was given unfair bonus payments and eventually fired after about a year at the bank because because she was a woman and not German.

"If the bank wanted her to fail because she was a non-German woman, why did it hire her in the first place?" Judge Harjit Grewal said in a statement released Monday. "The mere fact that two employees, who speak the same language, communicate with each other in that language does not amount to an act of race discrimination against someone who does not speak and understand that language."

Fiouzi alleged that Commerzbank, Germany’s second-biggest lender, fostered a “friends and mates culture” where there was “a well entrenched guard of men," according to her witness statement. Those claims were unfounded, according to Grewal’s written judgment released Monday.

Fiouzi, who is of Iranian origin and was educated in Canada, was hired by Commerzbank in April 2013 on a salary of 130,000 pounds ($196,000) after jobs at JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Credit Agricole SA. In a document filed to the court, the bank said Fiouzi was fired as part of a corporate restructuring during difficult market conditions. She was also disruptive and failed to meet her targets, the document said.

Headcount Reduction

There was a "valid reason for headcount reduction and we do not accept that the whole redundancy process, in which others lost their jobs, was engineered simply because" Fiouzi "was a non-German woman or because she had made complaints of sex discrimination," Grewal said.

Damages in employment cases are normally capped at about 78,000 pounds unless there is evidence of discrimination based on race, religion or gender. Fiouzi’s attorney, Tim Johnson, said she didn’t want to comment on the decision.

Commerzbank said it was satisfied by the ruling.

“The decision of the tribunal vindicates our position that Ms. Fiouzi was not subject to discrimination or victimization during her employment," a spokesman for the bank said by e-mail.