March 14, 2019 / 4:28 PM / 6 days ago

Junior trader files harassment, discrimination lawsuit against UBS

LONDON (Reuters) - A former junior trader who accused UBS of mishandling a complaint of rape and sexual assault by senior colleagues against her has filed a claim in the UK for damages against the Swiss lender, legal documents seen by Reuters show.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen on a branch office in Zurich, Switzerland November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

The claimant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleges that she faced gender discrimination and sexual harassment while working at the bank in London.

She is also seeking damages for alleged victimisation suffered after reporting her grievances and alerting managers and regulators to what she described as an “offensive and humiliating” work environment.

“While we would never comment on individual claims ahead of formal hearings, back in November an independent investigation into the allegations made by the former UBS employee concluded that UBS made no fundamental errors. Recommendations were made for improvement and we are implementing these changes,” UBS said in a statement.

The ex-trader alleges she was raped by a senior UBS employee on Sept. 22 2017, an allegation that was reported to the Metropolitan Police and which remains under investigation, a press officer for the police force confirmed to Reuters.

According to the so-called particulars of claim, a legal document in which claimants set out their case, UBS allowed the man accused of rape to work in close proximity to the former trader for at least a fortnight after she reported the allegation.

The woman also alleges UBS breached its own internal rules by delaying disciplinary action against the employee.

UBS has declined to provide information on the former employee accused of rape. Reuters attempted to contact the individual via social media but was unable to get a response.

The woman also alleged she was touched inappropriately by a UBS managing director at an evening event in August 2017.

This followed other incidents of alleged workplace discrimination and sexual harassment from the managing director, including unwanted personal attention and requests to perform errands like coffee-making and vacation bookings at the expense of her own duties, according to the claimant.

The managing director did not respond to a request for comment sent to his lawyers on Wednesday. But in an email sent to Reuters in October, his lawyers said he denied the allegations.

“He denies the underlying allegation in the strongest possible terms, and considers such conduct abhorrent,” law firm Himsworth Scott, said ‪on Oct. 10.

SURVEILLANCE

The former trader also alleges a “gross violation of privacy” throughout the bank’s investigation of her rape allegation. Law firm Freshfields reviewed UBS’s investigation and said in November that it was handled fairly.

According to the legal documents, a data release she obtained showed UBS staff had examined hundreds of messages sent to the personal mobile phones of her colleagues and tracked her movements to, from and inside UBS’ Broadgate offices.

The claimant resigned from UBS in June 2018. She then emailed Andrea Orcel, then head of UBS’s investment bank, to share details of her experience.

According to the documents, the claimant was told her concerns and allegations would be investigated as “whistleblowing”. She was encouraged to assist Freshfields with its review and was assured that the law firm was independent of, and not advising, UBS.

Both UBS and Freshfields have denied the claimant a copy of the review’s findings, citing legal privilege. A spokesman for Orcel declined to comment. Freshfields did not respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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