As banks step up their redundancy programmes, will young white males with little recourse to discrimination legislation find themselves at the sharp end of job cuts?
“First we had to watch out for women, then ethnic minorities, then gay and transgender people, then disabled people – and now old white boys are suddenly playing the age discrimination card. It doesn’t leave us with many people to choose from,” says an MD at one US bank.
Linda Jackson, a director of Fairplace, which provides transition services to redundant bankers, says they’ve had “a couple” of Afro-Caribbeans coming to them from banks, but that most of the redundant bankers coming through their doors are young white males. She points out that this could, however, be because most banks are disproportionately staffed by white males aged less than 35.
An aversion to discrimination claims doesn’t appear to have been uppermost in the minds of all banks making job cuts. Charles Ferguson, of Ferguson Solicitors, says he’s currently representing a female CDO trader who was made redundant after she lost 24m. Her male boss was responsible for desks which lost 750m and is still in situ. “It just so happens that all the traders who lost their jobs were women and that the bank no longer has any senior female traders left,” Ferguson says.
But he adds that banks would be stupid not to be wary of cutting people who might claim discrimination: “It ups the ante enormously – you’re talking millions of pounds in compensation as opposed to a cap of 65k for an ordinary unfair dismissal case.”
In theory, people who are sacked because they’re easy targets can bring a reverse discrimination claim. In practice, this doesn’t happen. “These laws weren’t passed to protect white males,” mulls Ferguson.