A banker who was accused of ’emotional terrorism’ by colleagues has been awarded almost €1.7 million (£1.4m) after a tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed by BNP Paribas.
Omar Alami, who was on a salary of around £1m a year and ran a trading desk, was dismissed by the French bank after colleagues raised concerns about his alleged outbursts on the trading floor.
Alami was accused of describing an employee as “useless” and “incompetent” in front of colleagues over a mistake which turned out to be a false alarm.
Colleagues claimed Alami’s beaviour amounted to “emotional terrorism” which left them with a “feeling of waterboarding”.
He denied the accusations in a court hearing last month, arguing that he was never humilating, insulting or aggressive. He said one of his responses was merely “lively”.
He also disputed the findings of an internal investigation, saying the statements from co-workers were anonymous, making it difficult for him to counter them.
BNP Paribas’ lawyer argued that the colleague who complained about Alami’s alleged outburst had to be put on sick leave for two weeks after the incident.
“The repeated humiliations had the effect of degrading his working conditions for several months,” BNP said in the dismissal letter. “Witnesses say he was very affected, that he came to the office in tears, expressing a feeling of deep unease.”
According to Bloomberg, which first reported the ruling, the Paris employment tribunal handed down its decision yesterday, but a written decision with its reasoning is not expected for a few weeks.
Coralie Ouazana, Alami’s lawyer, told Bloomberg that the decision had cleared his name after a three-year legal fight.
“Extremely serious accusations had been brought against him without any proof, accusations which he has always disputed,” said Ouazana. Alami sought a £3.2m pay-out for unfair dismissal.
BNP Paribas said in a statement that it would consider appealing the decision.
“BNP Paribas does not tolerate behaviour contrary to the respect and dignity of individuals, at all levels of the organisation.
In this matter, the company has taken all necessary measures to protect its employees in accordance with the Group’s procedures,” it said.
Last year, a London employment tribunal ruled BNP Paribas had to pay more than £2 million in compensation for sex discrimination and equal pay breaches. Stacey Macken experienced a number of sexist incidents while working at the bank, including drunk male colleagues leaving a witch’s hat on her desk.