Citi's Ousted French Star Sues Lender After Alleged Snubs

(Bloomberg) -- A banker with Citigroup Inc. in Paris once lauded as a star performer is suing the lender for harassment, claiming he was fired after snubs such as being excluded from client meetings and a thank you note sent to colleagues.

Henri-Jean Reville had been on an upward trajectory for the first five years after he began working there in 2010 and ranked fifth out of a team of 60 for his performance in 2015, his lawyer, France Lenain, told an employment tribunal panel in Paris.

But his stellar status faded in a matter of months as colleagues and his supervisor began to shun him, she told the four-person panel on Monday. Reville was excluded from client meetings that a junior colleague attended in his place and was deliberately left off a list of colleagues that his boss was thanking for their hard work, the attorney told the court.

By the middle of 2016, his supervisor began making “totally unsubstantiated” claims about his performance and shouting at him in some meetings, the lawyer said. This contributed to him going on medical leave in August 2016, and eventually to his dismissal in March 2017, she said. Reville has not been able to find work since and is seeking a payout of about 690,000 euros ($770,000) for harassment, lost pay and social contributions, Lenain said.

Even his decision to come back to work at Citigroup near the end of November 2016 was mocked as a “surprise return,” his lawyer said, citing an internal email.

From 2010 to 2015 there was not a single shadow over his Citigroup career and Reville had no reason to think he’d be negatively judged in 2016, the lawyer told the tribunal. Reville had been “one of the key architects to the revival of Citi’s franchise in the region,” she said at the Monday afternoon hearing, quoting an internal email announcing his promotion to head of equity markets for France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Benjamin Louzier, a lawyer for the New York-based bank, painted a very different picture of Reville’s final 18 months at Citigroup.

In his mid-2016 performance review, his boss pointed to a first-half 17-percent drop in performance for the equity portfolio he oversaw, said Louzier. That would become a full-year decline in that range, with commissions and trading volumes down even more, Louzier said, citing documentation from performance reviews.

More importantly, the feedback was that he had to do a much better job of reaching out to his staff, according to the lawyer.

“Here was the no. 4 for Citigroup in France who managed dozens of people, who never held staff meetings,” said Louzier. He rejected the notion of harassment, saying that the half-dozen emails offered as evidence were flimsy. “So ‘three people on the team got thanked in an email, and not me.’ For Mr. Reville, that’s harassment,” Louzier said.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup in London declined to comment.

The employment tribunal is scheduled to give its verdict on June 25.

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