Gay former banker loses tribunal claim against HSBC for mishandling misconduct investigation

Peter Lewis, a former senior banker at HSBC, has lost his long-running claim that the banking giant discriminated against him because he was gay.

Lewis, HSBC’s former head of global equities, claimed the bank had mishandled an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct because of sexual discrimination. A colleague alleged that Lewis had performed a lewd act while they were at the bank’s gym in November 2004.

The case was one of the first to come before a tribunal under sex discrimination legislation – extended in December 2003 to protect gays and lesbians.

Lewis originally sued HSBC for £5m last year, claiming unfair dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. He lost 12 of his 16 claims, but the Employment Appeal Tribunal ordered a fresh hearing into four of them.

The new case centred on whether the way HSBC investigated the accusation against Lewis was discriminatory.

However, the tribunal ruled that Lewis’s claims were “not well-founded”.

HSBC welcomed the result of the tribunal: “We have always maintained that the allegations of differential treatment by Mr Lewis on the grounds of his sexual orientation were wholly lacking in factual foundation,” it said.

“Mr Lewis was dismissed for gross misconduct following a complaint of sexual harassment made against him by another member of staff – and for no other reason.”

Mark Mansell, employment partner at law firm Allen & Overy, which advised HSBC on the case, said: “This is a vindication both for the procedures that were followed and the individuals that were involved with them.

“HSBC dealt with this case in the way that it would any complaint of harassment.”

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