A&O defends HSBC against gay banker

Allen & Overy is fighting for HSBC in the employment tribunal today as the first ever sexual orientation discrimination claim comes to trial.

Employment partner Mark Mansell is acting for the bank as it defends itself against the claim brought by former equity trading head Peter Lewis. The case kicks off today at a Stratford employment tribunal.

Lewis is claiming that he was dismissed from his role because he is homosexual. The bank argues that Lewis lost his job after an investigation into a complaint of “gross personal misconduct” and sexual harrassment.

An HSBC spokesman added: “We utterly reject the allegations of discrimination made by the dismissed employee, which are wholly lacking in foundation. HSBC will vigorously defend such allegations in the Employment Tribunal hearing.”

Bindman & Partners’ joint head of employment, Alison Downie, is acting for Lewis. She said her client was pleased that he could bring the claim following new laws against discrimination on grounds of religion or sexual orientation which came into force in December 2003.

Downie has instructed Cloisters Chambers’ Chris Quinn for Lewis. Allen & Overy instructed Essex Court Chambers’ Andrew Hochhauser QC for HSBC.