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11 Mar 2008

Hedge Fund Manager Under Record Attack For Discrimination

Gill Switalski, a city lawyer and head of legal affairs at F&C Asset Management is talking to lawyers about a record compensation payout of £13.4 million ($27 million).

The mother of 2 special needs children had to leave her career after being subjected to 18 months of sexual discrimination and harassment, according to an employment tribunal.

Switalski was previously named as one of the legal world’s "Hot 100" and must be paid compensation over her claims that she was undermined, undervalued, bullied and marginalised by the company, the tribunal said. Switalski sold her family’s £3.4million ($6.8 million) home to help pay for her legal battle against the hedge fund manager.

Switalski complained she was overlooked for management positions and sidelined in favour of her deputy on a project to buy a hedge fund. At the same time a male employee at the firm who also had children with special needs was allowed to take time off and work from home, her lawyers said.

After Switalski’s mother died suddenly she was sent an email demanding her mother’s death certificate for the firm’s travel insurance claim, the tribunal in central London was told.

A severe illness and 3 surgeries later, Switalski went on sick leave and never returned to the company, lodging formal complaints about bullying, harassment, intimidation, sex discrimination and victimisation.

Her lawyers have put the cost of her psychiatric damage and loss of earnings, pension and career prospects at £13.4 million ($27 million), which would be the biggest sex discrimination payout in Britain.

F&C, which currently manages £102 billion ($205.8 billion), has lodged an appeal denying Switalski’s claims.