Ex-UBS Banker Gets $306,500 in Suit Over Who Harassed Whom

(Bloomberg) -- A former UBS Group AG executive in Paris labeled as “aggressive” by his ex-boss was awarded 250,000 euros ($306,500) in an unfair-dismissal fight where both sides accused the other of harassment.

Michel Delouya, formerly working on EMEA risk control at UBS Asset Management France, had sought at least three years of pay based on his 165,000 euro fixed salary and his curtailed bonuses. He also asked for reinstatement. A court official gave Monday’s ruling by phone and the full details won’t be available for weeks.

The compensation comes on the back of a November hearing where Delouya accused the lender of progressively sidelining him after he complained about his boss and then dismissing him three years later. UBS argued at the hearing that his 2015 departure was an economic layoff as part of a group reorganization and can in no way be interpreted as a “retaliatory measure” against him for saying he was a victim of harassment.

Unfairly Withheld

Bankers routinely turn to specialist labor courts throughout Europe to recoup lost bonuses and rehabilitate reputations, with varying degrees of success. Earlier this year, a former Morgan Stanley dealmaker in Paris told the city’s employment tribunal that the lender unfairly withheld $1.5 million in deferred pay a year after he raked in more than $100 million in fees while advising billionaire Patrick Drahi on a $23 billion acquisition.

UBS France representatives declined to immediately comment. Delouya and his lawyer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Delouya’s woes began after he reacted to his boss’s assessment that he had “an aggressive behavior.” The banker complained that the criticism was tantamount to him being harassed, his lawyer Savine Bernard said at the November hearing. Delouya’s responsibilities and annual bonuses subsequently shrank, he was excluded from projects and even saw his budget to travel outside of France vanish.

Internal Probe

“Here you have a manager for Europe that de facto can no longer travel in Europe,” Bernard at the hearing. The former executive’s complaint triggered an internal investigation which the bank said showed he was the one harassing colleagues, according to Bernard. Delouya asked to see the findings of the internal probe but wasn’t given access to them.

The lawyer told the court that she, on the other hand, has five testimonies from employees to prove her client was a victim of harassment.

Gwen Senlanne, a lawyer for UBS, said in November that Delouya’s boss didn’t criticize his results but rather the way he went about obtaining them and simply said he had an aggressive behavior that wasn’t befitting of management.

Still, there was clearly no link between the harassment issue Delouya raised “one single time" in 2012 and his dismissal, which took place three years later, Senlanne said.

“There was clearly a logic to the reorganization,” the lawyer said, underlining the difficult context induced by the economic crisis. “There was a need to cut costs” and UBS decided to rely more on the Switzerland-based risk control platform and cut back on staff in France.

Bernard said at the November hearing that her client’s health began deteriorating following the incident with his boss and doctors told him it must be linked to work-related stress.

"They fired him even though he was extremely fragile," Bernard said. "They put his health in peril."

The UBS lawyer sought to pick holes in Delouya’s case.

"We’re being told that it was hell at UBS and that his health deteriorated as a consequence yet he’s asking to be reinstated," Senlanne said. "There’s something in this argumentation that seems contradictory."

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.