Dealing room culture in the dock

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The Independent Online

A High Court judge questioned the culture of City dealing rooms yesterday as the £1.5m lawsuit brought against inter-dealing firm Cantor Fitzgerald continued.

The case brought against Cantor by a former senior managing director, Steven Horkulak, has exposed the culture of swearing in dealing rooms.

The judge, Mr Justice Newman, acknowledged that the use of such direct language was understandable in high-pressure situations, but he questioned whether this sort of culture was acceptable. "Are we to permit in the workplace that sort of culture to be acceptable where there are other objectives that exist?" he said. The judge said this was not just a question for Cantor, but for the City as a whole.

Mr Horkulak has brought a constructive dismissal case against Cantor, claiming that Lee Amaitis, the firm's international president, bullied and yelled abuse at him in the six months before he quit in 2000.

Mr Amaitis has denied that he was unreasonably abusive, saying that shouting was part of the business culture.

Mr Justice Newman questioned whether the City was a special case. "It's not just the language, it's not just the tone, it is the whole ethos," he said. "The employee/employer relationship is subordinate, in this case, to money."

Mr Horkulak has admitted to a drug and alcohol problem before leaving Cantor Fitzgerald. Mr Amaitis has also revealed he had a "substance" abuse problem in the mid-1980s. The case continues.