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Press Statement Ahead of November 2017 Discrimination Trial

by Georgi Mechkarov

Following almost 3 years of legal battle and after overcoming the initial strike out of my case against Citil, I am glad to confirm that the Employment Tribunal has finally allowed the case Mechkarov v Citibank to proceed to trial.

The trial is taking place in Nobember, 2017 in the East London Employment Tribunal and will hear my post employment claims of victimisation and discrimination on the basis of Eastern European origin and nationality.

Citigroup is represented by a group of legal advisers and representatives and intend to call as witnesses the main discriminators, my former managers at Citigroup and French nationals, Mr. Mathieu Gelis and Ms. Catherine Pierre. I plan to proceed as a litigant in person, i.e. without formal legal representation.

This press statement is to confirm that I continue to stand firmly behind my claims against Citigroup, which include victimisation and discrimination on the basis of Eastern European origin:

         o My former managers at Citirgoup telling me to go back to Bulgaria or another ‘similar’ country.

         o Citigroup taking active steps to prevent me from continuing my career in London by blocking my access to my professional network.

         o Citi’s HR and Internal Investigation departments violating my rights of an employee and tarnishing my personal and professional reputation by:

                   (i) Blatantly failing to follow Citigroup’s procedures in the investigation of my complaints.

                   (ii) Treating me unfairly and discriminatory by installing a ‘firewall’ preventing my e-mails from reaching anyone at Citigroup and sending my former London colleagues an e-mail asking them to inform HR prior to communication with me.

          o Citigroup refusing to make full disclosure about my complaints and taking active steps to deny me of my right to fair trial.

While not all of my claims were allowed to proceed, I am glad that I will have the opportunity to prove in court that the post employment actions of my former managers and HR at Citigroup were unfair, discriminatory and also against the interest of the bank and its shareholders.

Importance of the Decision

The decision of Employment Judge Foxwell to allow my claims to full trial means that the efforts of Citi to prevent it have failed.

That is an extremely important legal victory that extends beyond the merits of my case. It shows that discrimination and racism against Eastern Europeans in the UK is not only deeply offensive and morally wrong but is a violation of the applicable legislation, including the Equality Act.

The practical implication is that Eastern Europeans living and working in the UK have the legal right to bring proceedings in the UK courts of law against those who discriminate against us. This legal right is not known and rarely exercised by the Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and other Eastern European nationals, who experience brutal acts of discrimination and hate crimes on a daily basis and choose to remain silent, in part because they are not aware of the available legal protections. Those legal protections should apply unconditionally to discrimination on the basis of Eastern European origin and nationality and, as my case shows, they cannot be avoided by even the most powerful defendants such as Citigroup regardless of how much resource they invest in and how many lawyers they hire.

Eastern Europeans in the UK are constantly blamed by the media and by high profile politicians about practically every single problem: starting from the benefit system, the NHS issues and the unemployment, it is always the Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European immigrants, who are the silent scapegoats of a poisonous and ever-escalating rhetoric. The result is discrimination and hate crimes that spread across all layers of British society at an unprecedented scale.

In this environment, it is very important that Eastern Europeans living and working in the UK become aware that we are protected by UK and EU law which allows us to fight against those who perpetrate hate crimes and discriminate against us.

Summary Case Facts :

         o Claimant: Georgi Mechkarov

                   § Joined Citi as a Relationship Manager in Bulgaria in 2006; top performing employee of Citi in Central & Eastern Europe. Moved to Citi London in 2010, most recently a Vice President in Corporate & Investment Banking.

                   § Received numerous recognitions for team work and contributions to Citi. Consistently rated either at top 10% or top 25%. Selected as #1 top performing employee in Corporate & Investment banking class at Citi in Western Europe.

            o Respondent: Citigroup

            o Dates and Venue: November 2017, East London Employment Tribunal

            o Judge:Employment Judge

            o Witnesses to be called by Citigroup:

                 § Catherine Pierre: formerly co-head of EMEA TEG team in London; currently Managing Director at Citi in London

                 § Mathieu Gelis: formerly head of EMEA TEG team, currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citigroup in France

            o Compensation sought for non-pecuniary personal damage as a result of victimisation and discrimination on the basis of Eastern European origin: £2,750,000

             o There are no reporting restrictions.

             o Case history:

                  § 29 February 2015: Claimant submits victimisation and discrimination case.

                  § 6 July 2015: Employment Tribunal refuses to allow the case to proceed to full trial.

                  § 9 February 2016: Preliminary Hearing at EAT to hear the appeal against the refusal of the Employment Tribunal to strike out the case.

                  § 11 May 2016: Full hearing at EAT allowing appeal against post-employment claims and remitting it back to the Employment Tribunal to re-consider the application to strike out. Subsequent appeals on 7 December in the Court of Appeal and thereafter with the EAT on protected disclosure were not allowed, leaving the post employment claims to proceed on their own.

                 § 13 March 2017 & 26 April 2017: Following 2 preliminary hearings, Employment Judge Foxwell allowed the case to proceed to a full trial and listed it to take place in November 2017 in the East London Employment Tribunal.

Legal disclaimer : The article reflects my personal views and opinions and should not be construed as an opinion, whether direct or implied, of any of the organisations and individuals that I am affiliated with. 

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