Former Starling exec wins unfair treatment claim

By Amelia Isaacs on Friday 16 September 2022

Digital Banking

The employee was fired in March 2020 and has won two of five claims against the digital bank.

Former Starling exec wins unfair treatment claim
Image source: Starling Bank.

An executive at Starling Bank has won part of an employment lawsuit against the digital bank.

Gulnaz Raja, a lawyer and former deputy company secretary at Starling, took the bank to an employment tribunal after she was told she was “not a Starling employee” and dismissed in March 2020.

The employment tribunal has upheld Raja’s claim that she was unfairly treated due to a medical issue related to asthma.

However, the tribunal rejected her claim that she was victimised and unfairly dismissed, ruling in favour of Starling on three of the five counts Raja brought forward.

Starling’s chief administrative officer Matthew Newman told the tribunal that Raja’s performance was “acceptable but not dynamic” in 2019 and expressed that his “frustration with the claimant’s performance was growing” at the start of 2020.

Raja had a number of medical conditions throughout her time at Starling, including asthma and the flu and asked to work from home at the beginning of 2020 due to fears around Covid exposure.

Newman said in his report of the meeting of Raja’s dismissal that he said it was not because she was ill, though Raja disputed this comment.

The tribunal ruled that Newman showed good evidence that he “valued employees working long hours in the office” adding that he was “critical of the claimant for leaving work at the end of her contracted hours”.

They concluded that in these circumstances this seemed to “align with an attitude of impatience with ill health absence”.

The tribunal upheld Raja’s claim that she was unfavourably treated by the bank because of something arising from her disability and her claim that she suffered because the bank did not hold a meeting with her to discuss her health concerns.

It dismissed the other three claims, including that she was victimised and unfairly dismissed.

“We're pleased the tribunal found in favour of Starling on three of the five counts,” a Starling spokesperson said.

“But we are, of course, very disappointed in the finding against us on two counts and do not feel it fairly reflects the Starling culture or how we look after our team.

“We are in the process of reviewing the judgement with our professional advisers and considering the position in relation to an appeal.”

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