Female City dealer 'sent to Coventry' by colleagues

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The Independent Online
A DEALER with a City bank yesterday told an industrial tribunal that she lost her job because she was a woman.

Julie Edghill, 39, from Sevenoaks, Kent, claims she was a victim of sex discrimination at Danish firm, Den Danske Bank, which has an office in the City of London.

Mrs Edghill, who traded on the dollar money markets for the bank, said she was regularly tormented and sent to Coventry by male colleagues.

She told an industrial tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, that she had been increasingly isolated by her male colleagues and then in May, 1996, had out of the blue been told that she was being made redundant after seven years with the bank.

She also claimed she had not been paid as much as her male counterparts, even though she was equally experienced and was the second-highest revenue earner on the desk where she worked.

One of the main "protagonists" of her treatment at the bank was fellow dealer Martin Bracken, she claimed.

Mr Bracken, who is also in his late thirties, stood for the Liberal Democrats in the Chelmsford West seat in Essex in the 1997 election and narrowly lost to the Conservatives.

Den Danske Bank disputes Mrs Edghill's claims and denies any breaches of the sex discrimination or equal pay laws.

The bank says Mrs Edghill was made redundant because she did not have the flexibility needed to operate in a variety of markets.

Mrs Edghill told the tribunal panel that she was the only woman among eight dealers on the money market desk - and was the second-highest revenue earner.

For several years she was considered an extremely capable dealer and her performance had been praised during annual appraisals. At the time of her dismissal she was earning in excess of pounds 40,000.

But by 1994 she was feeling increasingly isolated by her male colleagues, she told the tribunal. "I found the attitude of the male staff at the bank to be chauvinistic. By 1994 I felt increasingly isolated. I was not accepted by the desk because I was not one of the lads.

"I detected undertones of hostility which became increasingly apparent. [One of] the main protagonists [was] Mr Martin Bracken"

In August, 1995, she was temporarily suspended from dealing in some commodities, including derivatives, after making large dealing losses.

She said there was a difference between her pay and that of Mr Bracken and other dealers which was "not justified".

She continued: "The hostility increased significantly ... The desk would sometimes send me to Coventry for a day at a time.

She said colleagues, including Mr Bracken, would on many occasions comment on the clothes she was wearing, or say she had put on weight.

"I was asked if I was going out with a new boyfriend. I was divorced. This was more than office banter," Mrs Edghill told the tribunal.

The hearing was adjourned until today.