Eiger Wins Unfair Dismissal Claim in London Tribunal

(Bloomberg) -- A London trader who was fired after accusing her boss of using her chat account to make deals lost her unfair dismissal claim against her former employer.

A London employment tribunal dismissed a claim by Ekaterina Korshunova that she was unfairly fired by Eiger Securities LLP.

However, Eiger was ordered to pay 5,000 pounds ($7,068) plus 1,498.08 pounds interest for injuring Korshunova’s feelings. Korshunova says she was fired after she became a whistle-blower by criticizing her boss, managing director Richard Ashton, for using her computer to make trades in her name when she was out.

Eiger removed three banks from Korshunova’s group of clients in July 2014, and she said she was humiliated. Ashton said she broke company policy by changing her computer passcodes and refusing to participate in any disciplinary meetings.

A majority of the tribunal judges hearing the case dismissed her claim of automatic unfair dismissal brought because of a protected disclosure, saying it was only part of the reason, while awarding her 6,498.08 pounds for injury to feelings.

“We are satisfied by the claimant’s evidence that she felt humiliated in front of others,” Judge George Foxwell said in the judgment. He said Korshunova’s protected disclosure was a factor in her dismissal but not the sole reason.

Although Eiger Securities acknowledged some injuries to feelings, it argued this was minor, the judgment shows. Nevertheless, the judge said the dismissal “reinforced and exacerbated” Korshunova’s feelings of distress. While the award was much lower than her original request, Eiger is appealing, Ashton said in an email.

Korshunova said that the majority of the judges found that whistleblowing was part of the reason for her dismissal but not the sole cause.

Eiger Securities cited “gross misconduct” when it fired Korshunova in 2014, saying she shouldn’t have changed her password to her Bloomberg terminal or switched off her computer screen after learning she was suspended. The firm also complained of her “failure to follow instructions and poor performance” after the disagreement.

Eiger had a 2015 ruling overturned on appeal the following year after Judge Elizabeth Slade said it wasn’t clear whether it was illegal to share computer passwords within a company and whether the dispute over passwords was on Ashton’s mind when he fired her.

After calculating the damages and interest at 6,498.08 pounds, Foxwell suggested that the figure be rounded up to 6,500 pounds. According to his ruling, Eiger “was not happy with that,” so the amount was left unchanged.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.