Commerzbank Banker Sues, Alleges Post-Pregnancy Discrimination
By Hannah George
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 advisor 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 wake of the #MeToo movement, following sexual abuse allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Banks have had to defend 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.
“We believe this case is without merit,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “Commerzbank does not tolerate workplace discrimination of any sort.”
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 allegations could show a “tendency to put spin and exaggerate matters,” the bank lawyer Simon Gorton said during his questioning of Rajput.
The hearing is set to continue for another five days at the London Central Tribunal.
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