Judge finds 'sexist' behaviour and 'laddish culture' at French bank Credit Agricole CIB

A tribunal has noted sexist and unprofessional conduct at French bank Credit Agricole CIB in its final judgement, which ruled against claims of sexual harassment, victimisation and gender discrimination brought by a former employee.

Nadia Moukaideche, an employee at the bank for two years between 2014 and 2016, lost a case of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in January, which she bought against the bank last year.

The full judgement, which has now been published, showed that although employment judge, Joanna Wade did not find in favour of the claimant, she found “unprofessional behaviour did take place” some of which could “rightly be labelled as sexist”.

The judge refuted Ms Moukaideche’s claims that pornagraphic images and videos were shared on the desk between the team, instead finding that Ms Moukaideche’s colleagues were sharing “nudity intermingled with football fixtures” in Whatsapp groups. Such behaviour “may have been unprofessional but not intimidating” the judgement reads.

There was “what you would call a ‚laddish culture’” at the bank, according to the judgement. Of which the whatsapp group was a “symptom”. Although one member of the messaging group, a Alexis Salvaro, said that there was no hard porn shared via a whatsapp group.

Ms Moukaiche complained of “disgusting behaviours such as burping, passing wind, misogynist jokes and remarks about women”. There were also jokes about prostitutes and drugs.

An internal investigation led Anne Jacquier, then head of central compliance in the UK, found this sort of behaviour did happen, but that these jokes “about wives’ cooking and spending money on prostitutes were bad taste and fell short of harassment.

Mr Salvaro said there were jokes about prostitutes made if people ran out of money towards the end of the month. Another employee of the bank, Mr Kartanas, said there was “sometimes boyish behaviour, but that is normal … if you see a nice looking girl, then someone might make a comment. This is human nature”.

According to the judgement Ms Moukaiche was also hit by a ball during a ball game played inside the office.

Concerns raised by the Ms Moukaideche led to an attempt to improve the working culture at the bank. Ms Jacquier is reported to have said that “even if those comments were meant as jokes, these should not be tolerated and even less encouraged by a manager”.

The judgement questioned whether or not Ms Moukaideche was genuinely offended by the behaviour of her colleagues given that she “gave as good as she got”. She was herself found to have engaged in “salacious gossip” and to have emailed on subjects such as colleagues “hitting on” her and being “ a big hom”, meaning gay.

Ms Moukaideche’s email correspondence were relevant to claims of distress as a result of colleagues’ comments about prostitutes, the judgement noted.

It pointed to a particular email exchange with between Ms Moukaideche and a colleague, Benjamin Nakache.

He said to her in November 2015 that “when I got back from holiday, the guy informed on me like a whore …”. The judgement notes that Ms Moukaideche replied “I am laughing my head off here, but those guys are real arseholes. When I am sick I don’t even bring a certificate. I don’t care, I don’t have to justify myself, especially since I often don’t see the Doctor because I can’t move lol … those guys are really and truly arseholes.”

Ms Moukaideche also alleged that her manager, Hemal Mistry, had admitted on several occasions that he wished the she would quit and once spread rumours that she may have been murdered by her boyfriend.

The judgement found that this was not related to gender. It also found that this behaviour was “related to fact in that Mr Mistry did not think she was very good and she had been in a violent argument with her boyfriend.”

Ms Wade determined that reasonable steps were taken by the bank to introduce equal opportunities training and found that Ms Moukaideche had “put together a dossier  of all the things she did not like about her work or which might have been unlawful and opportunistically labelled it discrimination, harassment and victimisation”.

Ms Wade concluded: “Some unprofessional behaviour did take place, and some of that would rightly be labelled sexist, but we are unanimous in finding that it was not unlawful.”

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