Firms in the City of London are facing a surge of employment litigation under legislation introduced in the UK two months ago banning discrimination against employees on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.
According to a report in the Observer, the legislation could mean big payouts for savvy high-fliers with a grievance. Employment lawyer Corinne Aldridge, who has set up her own practice with Helen Parker specifically to exploit this rising tide of claims, says that writs begin to fly when banks and brokerages start laying people off and cutting bonuses.
Moreover, because the amount employment tribunals can award for unfair dismissal is capped at £55,000, well-paid City workers tend to claim discrimination instead - where there is no limit to compensation.
“Often,' says Parker, “an employee will put up with bad behaviour for a long time. But when he gets sacked and has nothing to lose, or when he doesn't get a promotion or bonus: that's when the diary comes out, and it turns out he's been keeping a careful log of the abuses from the beginning."
And it appears that the future could bring the lawyers even richer pickings.
Meanwhile, Aldridge and Parker are already looking ahead to 2006, when the Square Mile's favourite vice - ageism - is finally banned. 'How many job ads have you seen asking for people under 40?' asks Parker.