HSBC manager sues bank over claim staff used 'sexist' term

HSBC manager who failed her six-month probation sues because colleagues used ‘sexist’ term ‘teaching grandma to suck eggs’

  • HSBC manager Rubinder Sukkersudha is suing the bank for sex discrimination
  • She claims that the use of the phrase ‘teaching a grandma to suck eggs’ is sexist
  • Manager is also suing HSBC for unfair dismissal and so-called ‘victimisation’
  • HSBC insist that she failed probation because she was poor at her job 

An HSBC manager is suing the bank for discrimination after claiming that the use of the phrase ‘teaching a grandma to suck eggs’ is sexist.

Rubinder Sukkersudha, who worked at the bank for six months in 2019 before she failed her probation, alleges she was the victim of harassment.

HSBC insist the saying is ‘a generic, colloquial turn of phrase’ which refers to giving advice to someone on a topic about which they already know.

The bank also claim that the £60,000-a-year audit manager, from Birmingham, was dismissed in late 2019 because she was poor at her job.

But Ms Sukkersudha, known as Ruby to colleagues, is now taking claims of sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and ‘victimisation’ to an employment tribunal.

Rubinder Sukkersudha, who worked at HSBC for six months in 2019 before she failed her probation, alleges that she was the victim of harassment

Her lawyer Nabila Malik told a preliminary hearing that her case included a complaint of sex discrimination about the use of the ‘sucking eggs’ phrase – a claim denied by HSBC’s counsel, Caroline Musgrave.

Outlining Ms Sukkersudha’s claim, Employment Judge Veronica Dean said: ‘Ms Malik suggests that comments such as ‘telling a grandma how to suck eggs’ is harassment because of her sex.

‘Ms Musgrave suggests that it is a generic, colloquial turn phrase not derogatory of women but refers to teaching someone something they already know, which is not harassment on the grounds of sex.’

Judge Dean ruled that the allegation should be heard at a full hearing.

She said: ‘The allegations of harassment will be considered by a tribunal hearing all of the evidence. In context, taken together there is an arguable case that the treatment of Ms Sukkersudha may be considered to be based upon sexual stereotypes and constitute harassment because of Ms Sukkersudha’s sex.’  

After starting work in June 2019, Ms Sukkersudha asserted her statutory right by not opting out of the Working Time Regulation – the employment law which prevents employees working more than their weekly limit unless they choose to.

The audit manager is suing the bank for discrimination after claiming that the use of the phrase ‘teaching a grandma to suck eggs’ is sexist. HSBC insist the saying is ‘a generic, colloquial turn of phrase’ which refers to giving advice to someone on a topic about which they already know

Ms Sukkersudha alleges as a result she ‘suffered detriments’ and was still made to work long hours, which she claims impacted her health.

She alleges she was ‘victimised’ by colleagues when she made a protected disclosure – known as whistleblowing – about this.

The tribunal also heard that Ms Sukkersudha ‘asserts that the decision to terminate her employment was an act of victimisation after she had raised concerns of bullying and harassment’.

HSBC reject the claims and ‘asserts that the real reason was that she performed poorly and failed probation’.

A tribunal report added: ‘It is HSBC’s case that as early as September 17, 2019, [an HSBC manager] had raised concerns over Ms Sukkersudha’s performance in a previous performance review.

‘[The HSBC manager] had raised concerns in relation to Ms Sukkersudha’s timekeeping and execution of her work, matters which were relevant to the issues that led to the termination of her employment.’

A full hearing will take place at a later date.

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