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Allen & Overy has been found guilty of victimising a female Asian employee.
A string of sex, race and other discrimination claims brought by intranet project manager Shazia Wahab were dismissed by the London Central Employment Tribunal on 23 September. However, a single comment made by a human resources manager came back to haunt A&O, leading to what is believed to be the first discrimination ruling against a magic circle firm.
After Wahab brought discrimination proceedings against A&O, the human resources manager told her that she had committed “professional suicide and that by an alleged breach of confidence shown that she was not trustworthy or loyal to the firm”. As a result, “a reasonable employee might feel disadvantaged in the circumstances in which she had thereafter to work”, the tribunal’s decision said.
Talking to The Lawyer, A&O marketing director Partha Bose said: “All it means is that we as a firm need to redouble our efforts to make sure we never say things in the way they were said. We’re deeply saddened that the employment tribunal ruled in the way it did. We are definitely committed to redoubling our efforts.”
He added: “The tribunal did speak very positively about our guidelines and the systems we have in place.”
Wahab is still employed by A&O but is currently on long-term sick leave. The human resources manager involved is still with the firm.