UK broker ActivTrades has been ordered by an employment tribunal to pay more than £75,000 to a former female exec, after its CEO said “women should stay at home and cook”, and then fired her for alleging sexual discrimination.
Lana Sinelnikova was employed as compliance officer between 2011 and 2018. She initially worked Compliance and AML Manager (MLRO) and then promoted to lead the broker’s regulatory affairs until she left to TradeTech Alpha to assume an analogous role.
Sinelnikova told the tribunal that she was subjected to abusive language and derogatory comments by , her boss and the CEO of the business. Lana described how she regularly faced sexual comments and was then fired when she alleged improper financial practices at ActivTrades.
The 37-year-old woman detailed some instances about the abuses of her boss and fellow co-workers including that in 2013, whilst intoxicated at a Christmas party, the Risk Director Andrea Draghi referred to women as “meat”. Further, Pusco, whilst at the Bulgarian office, stated on an occasion when Sinelnikova was present that “women should stay at home and cook”, in the context of complaining about the length of maternity leave in Bulgaria.
The claimant also alleged that in 2017, Pusco displayed an image of an advertisement by Aston Martin, which contained a woman wearing limited clothing in a particular pose, adding that marketing needed to be “sexy” and that sex sells. The tribunal found this particular statement was insulting, offensive, and degrading to women.
On the other side, ActivTrades execs said Sinelnikova was fired from her role for gross misconduct. In particular, while she was in a sick leave for two weeks for being stress and anxiety, Sinelnikova took a work trip to Dubai with a senior colleague called Jon Friend she was in a relationship with. They also claimed she was running an eBay account from her company computer.
Lana defended herself against such claims, saying she travelled to Dubai to draft regulatory documents and attend meetings with the DFSA. Further, upon successful completion of the , she was awarded a bonus of £7,500, instead of the usual £5,000.
“We rejected the Respondent’s case on this point as not credible and unrealistic. Both had been on several business trips together, with the approval of the Respondent. Moreover, the Respondent knew and accepted that the Claimant and Mr. Friend would need to travel on Compliance-related business trips together,” the legal notice said.
Overall, the tribunal upheld claims of unfair dismissal and victimization and that ActivTrades had been trying to force her out and used the trip as ‘leverage’ to fire her and to also to stop Sinelnikova from pursuing any legal proceedings.
Ms Sinelnikova was awarded compensation totalling over £76,510, including £10,000 for unfair dismissal and £48,000 for injury to feelings and personal damages.