Lovells has successfully defended a sexual discrimination claim against Merrill Lynch brought by former banker Stephanie Villalba. Villalba was claiming a record £7.5m against the investment bank, alleging that she had failed to win promotion and had been paid less because of her gender. The employment tribunal in Croydon today (22 December) dismissed the claim. The tribunal did, however, find that she had been unfairly dismissed from her job and had suffered a degree of unlawful victimisation. The victimisation included isolation in the period prior to her dismissal. Villalba can be compensated by up to £55,000 for the unfair dismissal. Lovells employment partner Lisa Mayhew led the case for Merrill Lynch, instructing Nicholas Underhill QC of Fountain Court Chambers. James Davies, joint head of employment at Lewis Silkin, represented Villalba, with Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose as counsel.