Commerzbank Banker Sues Over Post-Pregnancy `Environment'

(Bloomberg) -- A Commerzbank AG executive accused the bank of discriminating against her when she returned from pregnancy leave, saying colleagues created a “hostile environment.”

Jagruti Rajput, a senior compliance adviser at the bank’s London branch, says that during her maternity leave she was “discouraged from attending at meetings, I was joked about, and my I.T. access was disabled,” according to her witness statement. She’s suing the bank in a London employment tribunal. The bank denies discriminating against her.

Rajput said that in December 2015 she was passed over for promotion to become head of markets in favor of an external male candidate. She was in the first trimester of her pregnancy at the time.

The hearing comes as women are discussing sexual discrimination in the workplace in the wake of the #MeToo movement, following sexual abuse allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Financial groups have had to defend how they handled new mothers’ careers in the past.

Rajput says she “felt sidelined because of my pregnancy/maternity leave” and that when she returned to work, colleagues would make jokes about when she would be having a second child. 

The bank said her case was without merit.

“Commerzbank does not tolerate workplace discrimination of any sort,” the bank said in an emailed statement.

A colleague of Rajput said the compliance adviser was prone to micromanaging and being controlling. Her manager, Jon Dyos, said she had to be “practically forced out of the building on her last day despite her waters breaking in the office,” according to his witness statement. But when questioned by Rajput’s lawyer Friday, Dyos admitted he had never formally raised the issue of her being controlling.

Rajput says that her remote access to the German bank’s I.T. system was cut off during her pregnancy, preventing her from sending emails.

“I felt completely isolated from the world which had been the most significant part of my life,” Rajput said. 

The hearing is set to continue for another five days at the London Central Tribunal.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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