A City Banker has won a multi-million pound pay out in her sex discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Miss Lokhova claimed that her male colleagues and bosses subjected her to a campaign of sexist and harassing slurs. The Employment Tribunal believed the Cambridge graduate’s claims against Sberbank CIC and was particularly concerned that her boss had not been disciplined for his behaviour. It is reported that Miss Lokhova’s colleagues called her ‘Chemically Dependant Minigarch Daughter’, ‘Clinically Bonkers’ and ‘Miss Dodgy Septum’ in internal communications. Also, that they told her that she had only been hired “because of her t***”, her boss called her ‘Crazy Miss Cokehead’ and a Senior Analyst suggested she visit Nigerian tribesmen to help her relax when she resigned.
It is reported that Miss Lokhova was claiming £5 million and was awarded approximately £3.2 million. Such a high pay out is not reflective of most Tribunal awards and is likely to be due to loss of earnings of her reported £750,000 pa salary/bonus and the fact that she was driven to a mental breakdown. The £40,000 injury to feelings aspect of the award exceeded the usual maximum of £33,000. There was also a reported substantial aggravated damages award of £15,000 due to attempts to slur Miss Lokhova’s reputation by alleging she had a drug habit, which the Tribunal saw as a deliberate attempt to cause her reputational damage.
Although this is an extreme example of an award, there is a whole stream of discrimination cases, not just those involving sex discrimination, to show employers need to be careful. Tribunals have shown their willingness to punish employers for discriminatory behaviour using their discretion with regard to injury to feelings awards. One way to ensure a good defence when such allegations arise is to have carried out regular equality training, have an equal opportunities policy in place and monitor the workplace.
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