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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
City worker wins bullying damages
Steven Horkulak
Steven Horkulak joined Cantor in 1997
A City worker has won his damages claim over alleged bullying at Cantor Fitzgerald International.

Steven Horkulak had claimed Lee Amaitis, the president of the brokerage firm, had hysterically screamed obscenities at him on a regular basis over six months until he was dismissed in June 2000.

The 39-year-old had told the court that his boss threatened to "break him into two" and "rip [his] head off".

Timothy Brennan QC, for Mr Horkulak, told Mr Justice Newman at the High Court in London that the treatment went "beyond what anyone should have to put up with in the workplace".

I am delighted that the court has recognised both the culture of bullying and abuse at Cantor
Steven Horkulak

Mr Horkulak, who joined Cantor in February 1997, said his contract was to run until September 2002 and claimed damages for loss of salary and discretionary bonus.

On Thursday he was awarded 912,000 damages, plus interest and costs which will take it close to 1m.

He said: "I am delighted that the court has recognised both the culture of bullying and abuse at Cantor, to which I was subjected over a long period, and the harm that I have suffered."

Cantor denied breach of contract and the allegation of bullying.

'Held accountable'

It said that Mr Horkulak, from Chislehurst in Kent, left the firm because of a long history of stress and anxiety at work with associated personality problems.

The 39-year-old, who is now head of euro interest rate swaps with Tullet Plc, denied allegations that he absented himself from the office without telling anyone where he was going, that he often had his mobile phone switched off, and that he was often absent from work without explanation.

In his judgement Mr Justice Newman said the contract between Mr Horkulak and his employer had broken down.

He said: "Mr Amaitis took every opportunity to vent his disapproval of the claimant, to the claimant and sometimes to him in the presence of others.

"He demonstrated by his outbursts that he had lost faith in him and gave him no chance to re-establish the trust and confidence which would recreate the 'faith'.

'Deep-rooted problems'

"His solution seems to have been to frighten the claimant into performing according to the standards he required and to make it plain that any contrary view which questioned his authority would not be tolerated."

Outside court Mr Horkulak said: "I launched this action so that Lee Amaitis and Cantor Fitzgerald would be held accountable for what they had done to me.

"The court has said whatever the environment, however rich and powerful the boss, whatever the rewards, there are standards below which no employer should go."

He added that he hoped Cantor's US bosses would accept that there were "deep-rooted problems" within its London office and take the necessary action.

Although Cantor was refused permission to appeal, it can still approach the Court of Appeal directly.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Assad Ahmad
"The judge was damning in his criticism of what went on here"



SEE ALSO:
'Wake-up call' to the City
31 Jul 03  |  London
City boss denies bullying
26 Jun 03  |  London


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