Woman’s ‘Christine Lagarde’ nickname was not age discrimination

By Ashleigh Webber

On January 18, 2023

The claimant was compared to European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde
dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

A woman who complained colleagues nicknamed her ‘Christine Lagarde’ has lost an age and sex discrimination case against Deutsche Bank.

An employment tribunal in London heard that Ms E Maugers, who was made redundant from the investment bank in 2020, felt there was a “culture of discrimination against older women”. However, the tribunal found that her dismissal had been fair and the company had not acted in a discriminatory way.

Employment Judge Bernice Elgot said the comparison with the head of the president of the European Central Bank, who like the claimant is French and has grey hair, was “rather silly and probably annoying”, but was not offensive or indicative of a culture of discrimination against older women.

­“It is part of the irritation of day-to-day office life which occasionally occurs. The claimant pursued no formal complaint or grievance about it.” the judge said.

Maugers claimed she was “genuinely shocked” to be placed at risk of redundancy in June 2020, following a meeting in which it was explained her role may no longer be required because of a restructuring exercise in the bank’s wealth management division.

The claimant, who had a successful career in financial services spanning 35 years, was the only person in the redundancy pool.

She joined the company in 2015, when she was aged 52. The tribunal found that this fact persuaded it against her arguments that the organisation had a prevailing historical prejudice against older female employees. It also had several women on its executive committee.

Maugers claimed the business decisions that resulted in her being selected for redundancy were so “perverse and irrational, even heinous” that there must have been “something more” to its decision. She felt she had been discriminated against because of her sex and age, which the tribunal disagreed with.

She also claimed she had been unfairly dismissed. The judgment concludes that there were no flaws or discriminatory factors in the redundancy procedure, which meant that her dismissal had been fair.

The judgment says: “The claimant was made the subject of a redundancy process and was dismissed as redundant because the respondent had sound and rational business reasons for this decision which were non-discriminatory.”

This piece was republished from the Personnel Today.

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