Lovells wins Villalba appeal for Merrill Lynch

Lovells has won a resounding judgment on behalf of Merrill Lynch in the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) this morning (31 March).

The EAT has dismissed the appeal brought by former investment banker Stephanie Villalba in her £7.5m sex discrimination claim against the bank, finding that the “Employment Tribunal reached an exemplary decision” when it threw out her case in December 2004.

Lovells partner Lisa Mayhew represented Merrill Lynch as it defended Villaba’s claims of sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination.

Matrix Chambers’ Thomas Linden was lead counsel for the appeal, taking over from Fountain Court Chambers’ Nicholas Underhill QC who was made a High Court judge in January 2005.

Villaba, represented by Lewis Silkin’s co-head of employment James Davies and Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose, won her claim of unfair dismissal and an element of unlawful victimisation at the tribunal stage.

She appealed the judgment on two grounds: victimisation and a claim of unequal pay. Villalba said that the tribunal had been inconsistent in its findings of victimisation and discrimination and had applied the wrong test for victimisation.

In its decision to dismiss the equal pay claim, the EAT said that: “The appellant is seeking to advance an argument in favour of the appeal which in our view is wholly at odds with the principles of discrimination law.”

The EAT has given Villalba leave to appeal the decision on equal pay.