Switalski on course for record compensation payout

F&C Asset Management’s former legal chief Gillian Switalksi has defeated the company’s bid to have her discrimination claim thrown out.

Switalski on course for record compensation payoutF&C Asset Management’s former legal chief Gillian Switalksi has defeated her former employer’s bid to have her multi million pound discrimination claim thrown out.

Switalksi’s discrimination claim against the asset management company was originally upheld by the Employment Tribunal in March (TheLawyer.com, 11 March).

The tribunal upheld a series of claims, including that that she was overlooked for management positions in favour of her male colleagues, and that she was unfairly scrutinised by her line manager when she took time off to look after her disabled son.

By comparison, a male employee, who also had a child with special needs, was granted time out of the office.

When she cancelled a work trip following the death of her mother, the company demanded she produce a death certificate to validate the company’s insurance claim, the tribunal was told.

The company sought to have the case re-heard after it claimed Switalksi had been “very actively engaged” in seeking employment while claiming to be seriously ill.

At the appeal in June, Monica Carss-Frisk QC of Blackstone Chambers, who acted for F&C, said that evidence showed Switalksi to be a “very plausible liar” who is “prepared to mislead her employer and the tribunal”.

Today’s ruling could put Switalski in line for a £19m compensation package, the largest of its kind in UK legal history.

F&C said it may appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. A spokesperson said: “The Tribunal has made some new findings against the company in connection with [Switalski’s] resignation at the start of the investigation and some correspondence regarding Ms Switalski’s health, which we are considering and may appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

” As a matter of principle as well as legal process we will continue to seek to have the original findings and the new evidence reviewed by the Court of Appeal, and, as noted, will consider options with regard to this new decision which uses the same, challenged approach.”

In April Switalski switched lawyers from Withers to Blake Lapthorn Tylo Lyons to escape spiralling legal costs (TheLawyer.com, 17 June).

A remedies hearing is listed for early February 2009 at which the tribunal will decide how much compensation to award to Switalski.

McDermott Will & Emery partners David Dalgarno and Alison Weatherfield instructed Carss-Frisk QC on behalf of F&C.

Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons’ employment partner Howard Hymanson instructed Suzanne McKie of Devereux Chambers, to act on behalf of Switalski.