16 March 2010

LEGAL - 'Bullied' City lawyer Gillian Switalski seeking £19m settles for secret payout

Gill Switalski

Deal: former head of legal affairs at F&C Gill Switalski

A City lawyer who had claimed a record £19 million in compensation over workplace bullying has settled for an undisclosed multi-million-pound sum.

Gill Switalski, 54, who earned £140,000 a year at F&C Asset Management, had already won her claims for sexual discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal.

Ms Switalski was head of legal affairs at F&C which controls assets of more than £100 billion, and also ran her own property development company and a legal training website.

She alleged in her lawsuit that she had been harassed and victimised by her employers from late 2004, and unable to work from August 2006, when she took sick leave following an operation. The tribunal ruled in her favour in March 2008.

Ms Switalski, a mother of two, claimed during her legal battle that she had been left almost penniless because her ex-employers were deliberately delaying her payout to “grind her into the ground”.

She said she was in a “dire financial position” and her £3.7 million house in Virginia Water was at risk because F&C launched a string of appeals against the tribunal rulings.

F&C appealed against the original decision twice, first in May 2008 and again in July 2009. In both cases the ruling was in Ms Switalski's favour.
At one stage in proceedings she was seeking £19 million though this was later lowered to £12 million.

A remedy hearing, where a judge decides on the size of the payout, was due to take place this week.

F&C appealed against the decision on the grounds that Ms Switalski had successfully applied for another job while on sick leave, thus disqualifying claims that her treatment at F&C had put an end to her career.

A spokesman for F&C said: “The parties have resolved all issues between them on the basis that all claims are withdrawn and will make no further statement.”


March 2010 - Lawyer who fought sexists wins millions in secret payout

July 2009 - 'Lawyer banks on record damages as panel upholds her harassment claim' - Tribunal upholds earlier ruling that Gill Switalski suffered sex bias and harassment. She is claiming £12 million damages

August 2008 - 'Lawyer in £19 million bullying case wins latest round'


Harbottle & Lewis successfully represent Gill Switalski in ground breaking discrimination claim

On 18 July 2009, following a Review Hearing that took place last month, the Employment Tribunal announced its decision to uphold the decision of an earlier Employment Tribunal that Gillian Switalski had suffered sexual discrimination, victimisation and harassment whilst employed by City-based F&C Asset Management as the Head of Legal. This is the latest twist in this long running and ground breaking discrimination case which has already been the subject matter of contested appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on two occasions as well as an appearance before the Court of Appeal. The case is now listed for a hearing to award compensation in early January 2010.

Employment law Partner Howard Hymanson, who is acting for Gill Switalski said: "I am delighted for my client that once again she has been vindicated in her claim against her former employer F&C Asset Management.

One should not underestimate the pressure that she and her family have had to endure in fighting to clear her name against highly resourced and belligerent adversary intent upon pursuing every possible legal avenue of appeal in order to avoid paying compensation for the damage it has caused to her health and her career.

Notwithstanding every attempt that has been made to destroy her credibility my client remains resolute and is greatly relieved that a newly constituted tribunal has rejected once again the application for a review of the judgments made in her favour by the original tribunal.

My client now hopes that this long running litigation may soon come to an end so that she may begin the process of looking forward with her life rather than having to re-live the discriminatory treatment she received at the hand of her employer."

For further information, please contact Howard Hymanson on 020 7667 5000.

View press coverage on the case:

The Times

The Guardian

Financial Times

Daily Express

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