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Dye your hair or be dismissed, tribunal hears

A tribunal has ruled that an older female banker who would not dye her grey hair was not a victim of discrimination when she was called “Christine Lagarde”.

The banker lost a £4.6 million discrimination claim in a “crushing blow” after she complained about being compared with the president of the European Central Bank, by male colleagues.  

59-year-old Elisabeth Maugars, the managing director at Deutsche Bank, claimed she was made redundant because of a “culture of sexism and ageism” at the bank. Consequently, she described the decision to let her go as “perverse”, “irrational” and “heinous”. The tribunal heard that she claimed that there was a “boys’ club” at her workplace which lead to discrimination against her as, "an older woman who refused to dye her hair".

The east London tribunal heard that Ms Maugars was “very successful” and had worked in banking for 35 years. In 2015, at the age of 52, she joined Deutsche Bank and was based in London as MD of non-recourse lending.

Ms Maugars, who earned a £295,000 salary, said co-workers called her “Christine Lagarde”. This she suggested was a comparison based on the fact that both are French women who have grey hair.  After being made redundant she took the bank to the tribunal claiming £4.6 million in damages. However, the panel ruled that she was treated fairly and her claims of unfair dismissal, age discrimination, and sex discrimination all failed. An employment judge found that the Lagarde nickname was “part of the irritation of day-to-day office life which occasionally occurs”.

 “We make no finding this comparison was offensive or indicates a ‘culture’ of discrimination against older women. The reason why [Ms Maugars] was placed at risk and was dismissed was because she was redundant,” Employment Judge Bernice Elgot said.


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