Ex-Citigroup Currency Trader Wins U.K. Unfair Dismissal Case

  • Carly McWilliams wins suit claiming Citigroup acted unfairly
  • Citigroup says it's 'disappointed' and stands by its decision

A Citigroup Inc. foreign-exchange trader who was suspended while on maternity leave won her employment suit against the bank, after a London court found the firm acted unfairly when disciplining her.

Carly McWilliams, who worked on the spot-trading desk for 14 years and was disciplined for sharing confidential information with traders at other banks, said she was “delighted” when contacted Friday after winning her case for wrongful and unfair dismissal.

Although the court found that Citigroup failed to follow proper procedures before she left the bank, the judge decided she had contributed to her suspension, according to a person familiar with the judgment. The finding will likely limit her financial award.

"It has been a very stressful and difficult fight lasting over two years against an army of legal professionals, but it was fundamentally important to me that I take a stand and defend my reputation," McWilliams said in an e-mailed statement. "Whilst winning this case will not restore my situation to what it was previously, it will hopefully clear my name and allow me to move on with my life."

Several traders have sued banks after being fired amid the FX-manipulation scandal. Her verdict is similar to three other employment lawsuits brought by traders where, though they’ve won on technicalities, judges have refused to award substantial damages.

“Citi stands by its decision to dismiss Ms. McWilliams,” a bank spokesman said. “While we are disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s decision, individual accountability is important to us and for that reason we defended the case in the Tribunal. We expect our employees to adhere to the highest ethical standards and will not tolerate breaches of our code of conduct.”

McWilliams was suspended in March 2014 and left on Nov. 20, eight days after Citigroup was fined 225 million pounds ($324 million) for its part in the foreign-exchange scandal. In her witness statement at trial, McWilliams said sharing information with rivals was part of her "everyday job" and she had been treated like "easy cannon fodder whilst off on maternity leave."

Perry Stimpson, a former Citigroup colleague of McWilliams, won his case and was awarded 58,774 pounds in January, less than half his annual salary. Robert Hoodless, another former Citigroup trader, is awaiting judgment in his case.

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