High flying employee accuses Tullett Prebon of harassment, files £1.5 million lawsuit

Minding one’s P’s and Q’s was once a pinnacle of behavior in the British work place, especially within London’s long-established and prestigious financial institutions.

Hierarchical, structured and overtly dignified, bowler hat-clad, black umbrella-toting city officials maintained a stiff upper lip and often made no diversion from the remit clearly stated on their employment contract, neither did they question their superiors.

Today, things are somewhat different. Indeed in certain cases, decorum and demure politeness are as obsolete as the bowler hat and rolled up umbrella, with many firms finding that once a senior executive decides, or the company decides for him, to move to pastures new, the gloves come off and the sleeves are rolled up.

The most recent example of this has manifested itself in a £1.5 million compensation claim for harassment and unfair dismissal by former employee Kishore Kansal, a 33 year old executive based in London, against electronic voice and interdealer broker Tullett Prebon.

Prior to leaving Tullett Prebon, Mr. Kansal held the executive position of Head of Private Equity Risk Solutions, a somewhat esteemed position for which he was remunerated with a £130,000 per year salary.

According to Mr. Kansal’s claim, he was unfairly dismissed from the firm following a series of what he considers to be racial slurs directed at some of his colleagues by his immediate superior, Neil Campbell.

Mr. Kansal alleges, according to many reports in national newspapers across the United Kingdom over the weekend, that the firm was “awash with racist and sexist jokes.”

Interestingly, whilst none of these alleged activities were actually directed at Mr. Kansal, he took umbrage at what he stated in his tribunal to be the apparent bigotry of seniors toward other staff of ethnic minority origin, in particular Pakistani broker Ghatan Vahidy.

Mr. Kansal alleges that Mr. Campbell “stood up with a large grin on his face and said ‘you can’t say that. You can’t say anything. You speak like this’ and then proceeded to do an impression of a Pakistani accent, saying ‘bud-li, bud-li, bud-li.’

“He slightly angled his head each time he said ‘bud-li’ in a way I recognized to be uniquely South Asian” claims Mr. Kansal. As the weeks passed he added: “He made these comments with such frequency that I came to expect them. It was regular, almost like clockwork. He would have his favorite terms such as ‘terrorist’ and ‘brown boys’ that he would roll out on an almost daily basis and he would rarely miss an opportunity to make a new comment if the opportunity presented itself. I was also surprised by how the others in the office took this behavior. There was no apparent protest, instead they would all seem to show loyalty, often laughing along and even contributing to the jokes.” is Mr. Kansal’s view.

Mr Kansal accused Mr Campbell of saying “almost all private equity investors were deluding themselves. He referred to them as retards, idiots and imbeciles.”

Although he claims that he is trying to avoid attracting attention, Mr Kansal asserts that he was victimized when he refused to join in, was prevented from working from home and had his work internet restricted.

But when he put in a grievance against Mr Campbell, his boss and others on the alternative investment team allegedly turned against him during a Christmas work lunch and he was forced to take sick leave. He claims he was then unfairly sacked, and therefore the components of his claim consist of racial discrimination, unfair dismissal, unpaid bonuses, a public interest disclosure, and not being allowed to take, or be paid for, annual statutory leave.

Whilst Mr. Kansal makes some highly insidious allegations toward his former employer in seeking his compensation claim, the shoe appears to be on the other foot when it comes to the manner by which he describes his former colleagues.

Indeed, it transpires that when referring to one of his female colleagues, Kim Sullivan, it is alleged that Mr. Kansal openly described her as “useless aside from her good looks.”

In addition, Mr Kansal himself has admitted to emailing colleagues a clip from the comedy movie Team America of a midget puppet depicting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, after he had been on a conference call with a south east Asian client who Mr. Kansal stated had a “very funny accent.”

Mr Campbell has denied that he is a racist, sexist homophobe. He added Mr Vahidy would often refer to himself as “the terrorist”, and say ‘that when he was going on holiday he was going to a terror cell’. He also denied calling Mr Kansal ‘brown boy’

Whilst jokes and joviality are part and parcel of British custom, mostly with absolutely no harm intended, Mr. Kansal also took offense when colleagues allegedly trotted out well-known jokes which included stereotypes about people from France and Holland.

Whilst the case continues, Mr. Kansal’s career at Tullett Prebon is almost a distant memory, having embarked on his latest senior level appointment as Managing Partner of venture capital and private equity firm PEFOX.

It indeed appears that the old, internationally known East End phrase “dont’ make me laugh” may need some modification to suit today’s environment, to “don’t make me laugh, it’ll cost you.”

Photograph: Left; Neil Campbell. Right; Kishore Kansal. Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph

Read Also: