Bullying women drove me to breakdown, says Deutsche Bank worker

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A City worker has launched an action at the High Court in London against her former employer over bullying from colleagues that drove her to a breakdown.

Helen Green, 36, is seeking £200,000 in damages from Deutsche Bank Services UK Ltd, who she says failed to protect her from workers in the " department from hell" who used "schoolyard tactics".

She claimed she suffered psychiatric injury because she was subjected to "offensive, abusive, intimidating, denigrating, bullying, humiliating, patronising, infantile and insulting words and behaviour", as former colleagues of Ms Green told the court yesterday that a group of four women would bully one woman and then another.

Ms Green, from east London, started work in October 1997 as a secretary and was twice promoted before she was referred for stress counselling, paid for by the company, in March 2000.

In November that year, she had a breakdown and was admitted to hospital before returning to work part-time in March 2001. In April 2001 she resumed full-time work but suffered a relapse in October. Her job was kept open for her until September 2003, when her employment was terminated.

Her QC, Robert Glancy, said medical experts on both sides had agreed that Ms Green developed a major depressive disorder, but there was disagreement about its cause.

In a statement she said was reduced to tears at her desk every day as the women would "barely talk to her or acknowledge her". She claimed her tormentors disrupted her work when they "blew raspberries, belched, and laughed loudly".

Ms Green, who now works for a charity, was in court yesterday as her former colleagues described the atmosphere in the investment bank. Heather Cook, who also worked for Deutsche Bank, told Mr Justice Owen: "Everyone knew about the bullying, the managers and human resources. Some of it was quite horrific." Ms Cook said she took two months' sick leave in the late Nineties after being subjected to bullying by the same group of women. But she said the intimidation campaign eventually "lessened on her" as her tormentors "started on Helen".

Ms Cook told the court: "I knew what Helen was going through because I was going through it too. I saw Helen was quite distressed." She said one manager dismissed her complaints, telling her: "Everyone has to take their turn."

Clare McCall, 33, another secretary, told the court: "I have never come across anything like it before or since. It was intimidation.It was ... childish behaviour." She said that Ms Green was deliberately excluded for no reason by others who engaged in "schoolyard tactics".

Deutsche Bank denies Ms Green was bullied or harassed or subjected to improper or unreasonable conduct.

The case continues.