Unfairly dismissed underwriter who suffered sexual discrimination asking for US$6.3 million

Claimant not intending to go back to insurance

Unfairly dismissed underwriter who suffered sexual discrimination asking for US$6.3 million

Diversity & Inclusion

By Terry Gangcuangco

Julia Sommer, the female underwriter who a UK court found was sexually discriminated against and was unfairly dismissed by a Swiss Re unit, is claiming £5.1 million (US$6.3 million) in compensation.

As reported by Insurance Business last year, Sommer worked at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Services Limited from June 2017 as a political risk underwriter in London before being let go in 2021. She was part of a global political risk and trade credit team led at the time by Robert Llewelyn, who was accused of sexist conduct.

As ruled by the Central London Employment Tribunal, Sommer’s claims of direct sex discrimination, maternity-related discrimination, and sex-related harassment each succeeded in part, while claims of equal pay and victimisation failed and were dismissed.

It was concluded that the claimant was unfairly dismissed, as the company – which cited redundancy as the reason for dismissal – failed to prove that Sommer’s position was redundant. According to the 72-page judgment at the time, there was no evidence of a reduction in the work for underwriters or a reorganisation which lessened the need for a junior underwriter.

It was also found that there was continuing discrimination on the part of Llewelyn – whose dealings with Sommer included less favourable treatment, verbal attack, as well as remarks such as “If I had breasts like yours, I would be demanding too” – based on Sommer’s sex.

Compensation claim

Now, according to Reuters, the two camps are back in the Central London Employment Tribunal to determine the remedy to which the claimant is entitled.

It was reported that Sommer is claiming US$6.3 million in compensation. It was also revealed that she has no intention of returning to the insurance industry; instead, Sommer plans to take up theology and become a Baptist pastor.

“People know I brought a claim against Swiss Re and have been out of work because of depression and anxiety – and all of these things matter (in job interviews),” Sommer was quoted as saying. “I consider myself a strong person... But I can’t persevere anymore... This is where my losses come from. I can’t go in there and do that anymore.”

It’s unclear how long it will take the court to decide on Sommer’s claim for compensation.

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