Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 17:25 UK

Bullied City lawyer claiming 12m

Gill Switalksi

A former City lawyer is hoping for record damages after a tribunal upheld a ruling that she was victim of sexual discrimination and harassment.

Gill Switalski, 52, is claiming £12m from F&C Assets Management for forcing her out of a job in September 2007 by workplace bullying.

The company had asked for earlier rulings to be reassessed on grounds that she misled managers.

It said she faked a nervous breakdown to secure a larger pay-off.

She is also claiming for harassment and victimisation, which the tribunal found caused psychiatric damage, lost her future earnings and diminished her career prospects.

A central London tribunal heard when manager Marrack Tomkin joined the £102bn firm he began to question her flexible working hours, holidays and expenses.

'Exit strategy'

It was said he became "fixated" with her working hours, which were designed to give her more time with her family, and checked up on her via colleagues, despite her hitting her targets.

Mrs Switalski has four children, including a son with cerebral palsy and another with Asperger's syndrome.

The tribunal heard Mrs Switalski's deputy was selected instead of her for the task of securing a hedge fund and that she was overlooked for management roles.

But meanwhile, her lawyer said, a male colleague who also had children with special needs was allowed to work from home to care for them.

When she cancelled a Boston business trip when her mother died in March 2006 she was asked to provide the death certificate for the firm's travel insurance.

F&C presented new evidence to the tribunal last month, saying Mrs Switalski faked a nervous breakdown as an "exit strategy" to secure a larger pay-off by citing loss of earnings.

The tribunal heard that, while she claimed she was so unfit to work she was "unable to read a newspaper", she secured a £160,000 job at a rival firm, which she later turned down on health grounds.

F&C asked for the tribunal to review its earlier decision based on the new evidence.

'Nightmare'

Monica Carss-Frisk, QC, for the company, said Mrs Switalksi had been seeking employment while claiming to be seriously ill and this undermined her credibility, with the result that "much if not all" of her original evidence should be "discounted".

On one day she was accused of manipulating her psychiatrist into describing her as "withdrawn" and so mentally ill that she was "disabled". Yet later in a job interview she was described as being "full of energy and life".

Mrs Switalski said she was delighted at the tribunal's decision but said the matter was not yet fully resolved as F&C Assets Management is appealing against the tribunal's decision.

She said: "If you take into account the 18 months I had of bullying and harassment, this has been going on since October 2004. It's had a severe impact on my health and it's impacted on my family, particularly my young boys. It's just been a nightmare.

"I was subjected to scrutiny you'd expect a failing employee to be subjected to, when I was an award-winning lawyer who always made significant bonuses. I was tracked like a bloodhound and since this case started every aspect of my personal life has been scrutinised."



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