City worker claims £11m for sexual discrimination

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The Independent Online

A high-flying female City worker seeking £11m in damages from a leading bank for sexual discrimination and wrongful dismissal took her claims to a private hearing yesterday.

Claire Bright, 47, who was head of asset and liability management at HBOS, claims she was unfairly sacked from her £600,000-a-year job.

Ms Bright was suspended in October after making an internal complaint about a male colleague who she said had sent her an e-mail complaining about her working from home.

Her original claim was sex discrimination and victimisation but after she was sacked, when she returned to work on 16 January at the London offices, she added unfair dismissal to her complaints. In her claim she said the colleague had been "boorish ... he displayed an egotistical and mercurial character" and gave her little support or encouragement, "unlike his treatment of other male colleagues".

She also claimed he "disrespected, demeaned, overruled, micro-managed and humiliated" her because she was a woman. She also accused him of changing the structure of meetings so that she could not speak.

Ms Bright, who lives with her husband and three children in Colchester, was employed in October 2004 at HBOS's treasury department, where she managed a team of 60 and had responsibility for a portfolio worth £140bn.

HBOS confirmed that allegations of sex discrimination had been raised by Ms Bright and these had been investigated under the company's internal procedures. The bank disputes her version of events.

Both parties met yesterday at a tribunal in Stratford, east London, for a "case management" hearing to decide preliminary issues.

A HBOS spokesman said: "Claire Bright has filed a claim with the tribunal and we will vigorously defend this case if it comes to the tribunal. We have a rigorous and comprehensive grievance procedure at HBOS. Claire Bright's allegations went through that grievance procedure and her allegations were proved to be unfounded."

Her solicitor refused to comment on the case. If the case reaches a full tribunal hearing it is not likely to take place until the autumn and could last several weeks.

The claim is one of the biggest to be filed against a British bank.