Today in “anytime you fire someone it’s always a case of discrimination” news…
A former investment banker for Citigroup has won an age discrimination case against the bank after one of his bosses called him “old” and “set in his ways” when he was laid off at age 55.
A London Tribunal ruled in the ex-banker’s favor this week, finding that Niels Kirk was dismissed unfairly. Kirk had previously been a managing director for energy banking, according to Bloomberg. He had previously been employed at Citigroup for 26 years and wasn’t given any warning about a proposed restructuring.
Citi says it will appeal the decision.
One of his bosses, 54 year old Manolo Falco, denied making the statement but did concede that Kirk “had some very difficult relationships with other senior bankers.” But the judge ruled that Falco’s evidence was “less than convincing”, while Kirk had taken notes in the meeting.
The judge presiding said: “The remark appeared to the tribunal to be the kind of throwaway remark Mr. Falco could make.”
The size of any award will be determined at a later hearing. Once an employee proves they are a victim of discrimination, a tribunal can order damages that are higher than the cap of about $109,000.
Kirk’s performance ranking had fallen from a 1 (best) to 3 (good) between 2014 and 2016. His overall compensation also fell from $1.24 million in 2014 to about $600,000 in 2016.
Citi claims its “position as set out in the litigation is that Mr. Falco did not make that comment.” Citi also says it’s upset with the decision “particularly given the small age gap between Mr. Kirk and the employee who was ultimately appointed to the role.”
Kirk’s hired successor wasn’t much younger, at just 51 years old.
Citi has 51 managing directors in the company’s EMEA Corporate Banking Department and, as of 2016, three were over the age of 55 and fifteen were 50 and older.
“Gray hair is very important in this industry,” Falco told the court last year.