Wall Street banker wins £15.5m sex discrimination payout

2005

A US banker has won £15.5m from banking giant UBS in one of the biggest sex discrimination compensation payouts ever made to an individual.

Walll Street executive Laura Zubulake, a former director at the bank in New York, sued the Swiss-based bank after being told by a male colleague that she was too "old and ugly and she can't do the job".

She was fired in 2001, after two years with the firm.

But she took the bank to court for sex discrimination and the jury in Manhattan found in her favour, awarding her £4.8m in compensation and £10.7m in punitive damages.

As part of its defence, UBS said that the behaviour of Ms Zubulake's boss was not discriminatory because he treated all his staff equally badly.

The bank had argued it had had "performance problems" with her, that she had not been a team player and that she had not been discriminated against.

During the three-week trial the jury heard how she had been invited by a male superior to a strip club in Boston.

She also alleged she was belittled by her boss in front of colleagues, denied lucrative client accounts and had been discriminated against by being excluded from events to which the firm's clients had been invited, including baseball games and golf outings.

In Britain, Schroders was forced to pay City analyst Julie Bower £1.4m in 2002 for being paid less than equivalent male colleagues.

But in December Stephanie Villalba, 42, lost a £7.5m sex discrimination case against US bank Merrill Lynch.

UBS is to appeal against the Zubulake judgment.