Camerons under OSS scrutiny for sex discrimination

CMS Cameron McKenna is being investigated by the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS).

A spokesman for the body says: “The OSS confirms it is looking into possible instances of sexual discrimination against two or three individuals at a large London solicitors’ practice.”

Investigations by The Lawyer, however, have established that the firm in question is Camerons. It is understood that the inquiry is looking at the allegations made by staff based in the firm’s CIS group. The first tribunal was settled in August 1998 after secretary Veronica Pescud make a complaint about her boss and office head Ilia Iaroslavski.

Then, in July 1998, an assistant left, claiming she was the victim of sexual harassment and bullying. A paralegal also quit, claiming that her stress-related illness was the result of mistreatment.

Two further assistants then went on to make claims for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination respectively. Their claims, however, were struck out by an employment tribunal last November.

The investigation is ongoing. Should it uncover anything, the matter could be referred to the Compliance and Supervision Committee. But a spokesman at the OSS says: “So far [the investigation] has received only second-hand information and no direct evidence.”

Camerons confirms it has been contacted by the OSS, “following allegations of discriminatory conduct, including harassment, made in the media. It is our understanding that the OSS conducts enquiries following media coverage of allegations of this nature.”

Denton Wilde Sapte has since taken over Camerons’ CIS operation (The Lawyer, 23 October).