In the case of Ms J Niccolini v Algebris (Uk) Limited the Respondent is an independent global asset management firm owned by Mr Davide Serra. Ms Niccolini started working for the firm in 2013.
Ms Niccolini and Mr Serra were ‘very good friends’, the tribunal heard, but were known to be ‘impulsive and volatile and might speak frankly to each other’.
In around 2018 Ms Niccolini’s relationship with her boss began to deteriorate over her performance and a disagreement over her management style, the tribunal heard. The hearing was told there were complaints she had been ‘micromanaging’ her team.
In October 2019 at a breakfast meeting in Milan, Mr Serra was ‘very critical’ of her and told her she was being demoted.
Accusing her of being rude to him earlier in the year, ‘He said that he knew women could be ‘frantic and unpredictable during their periods’,’ the tribunal heard.
Ms Niccolini then went off sick with stress and anxiety.
In December of that year, Mr Serra met her again to ask if she was going to accept the demotion or leave the company.
‘At the end of the meeting Mr Serra said he needed to know what [she] wanted to do by early January and that she should remain rational because he had seen how she reacted when overtaken by ‘a hormone tempest.’
‘Mr Serra’s view was that [she] would be getting the same money for a smaller role, and that her pride was preventing her making a rational decision.’
The tribunal concluded Ms Niccolini had been the victim of sex harassment and victimisation and awarded her £32,831.94 in compensation.
‘Mr Serra’s comments that he had seen how Ms Niccolini reacted when overtaken by a hormone tempest were unacceptable comments which had the effect of both violating her dignity creating a humiliating and offensive environment for her,’ it said.
‘They were related to her sex. They amounted to harassment.’
However, the tribunal rejected her claim that she had been sexually discriminated against by being demoted. Ms Niccolini’s other claims relating to whistleblowing, disability discrimination and indirect sex discrimination also failed.
Algebris commented that the Tribunal recognised that Ms Niccolini and Mr Serra had been very good friends for a number of years and that prior to the events leading to her demotion she never made complaints about how Mr Serra treated her, or women in general.
Algebris is committed to fostering an open and inclusive culture and our employees are our most important asset.
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