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Spate of Barclays employment cases after lawyers left for HSBC

It’s a busy week for Barclays’ team of internal employment lawyers. They have no fewer than three cases in the East London employment tribunal: one brought by Abanda Bella, a former VP quant analyst; another brought by ‘Ms K Morjaria’, an ex-VP in the legal business management team; and another brought by a Mrs N Walsh.

Walsh seemingly worked for the retail bank, but Bella and Mojaria worked for Barclays Execution Services, the investment bank. Bella is claiming racial discrimination and alleges that he felt labelled as an "aggressive Black man;" he wants $19m in damages. Mojaria is arguing that she was unfairly dismissed and subject to disability discrimination.

Barclays isn’t commenting on the cases. Employment law complaints are nothing new for investment banks (ask Goldman Sachs, which recently paid $215m to settle a longstanding gender discrimination case in the US), but Barclays sources suggest the spate of cases comes at a bad time for the bank, whose legal team has been depleted by persistent departures for HSBC.

Those departures began in 2021, when Bob Hoyt, General Counsel for the Barclays Group and chair of the legal executive committee left for HSBC after seven years.  He was followed by Victoria Hardy, another member of the legal executive committee and general counsel of Barclays’ M&A, treasury and group centre, and then by Jon Doyle, another member of the legal executive committee and the chief of staff to Bob Hoyt.

There was then a lull, when things seemed to settle down a bit - but this year another two people quit, also for HSBC: Stephen Albrecht, general counsel of Barclays Execution Services, covering the strategy, operations and technology functions; and Venissa Amin, head of legal project management. In May, Caroline Graham, the global head of legal external engagement also quit for PWC.

Does this matter? Barclays undoubtedly would argue that it doesn’t, particularly as it’s already hired two new replacements for those who left: Nicola Mayo, a former Linklaters partner as head of group corporate treasury and legal, and Crystal Lalime as general counsel for the corporate and investment bank, who joined from Credit Suisse. However, both are comparatively recent hires – Lalime joined in February and Mayo joined in April, and Lalime is in the US, which is not in close proximity to the East London employment tribunal.  

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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