American International Group Inc. said it was not “unwelcoming to working mothers” as the insurer fought a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former London trader dismissed while on maternity leave.
Jennifer Marlow, who until September 2016 was a senior foreign exchange and interest rates derivatives trader, claims in the lawsuit that she was dismissed unfairly for seeking flexible working hours shortly after becoming pregnant. AIG’s lawyer said during a hearing that Marlow, who was paid about 250,000 pounds ($317,000) a year, was laid off during a widespread restructuring process as the company battled “commercial pressures.”
“Some parts of the financial sector is unwelcoming to working mothers, AIG is not one of them,” Daniel Stilitz, AIG’s lawyer, said during closing arguments at the employment tribunal Monday. Marlow’s dismissal “was a gender neutral business decision.”
AIG’s headcount fell by 10,000 last year as former Chief Executive Officer Peter Hancock sold units and cut jobs. The company faces a separate London lawsuit filed by former traders, analysts and managers who say they were denied $100 million in bonuses amid public outrage over derivative trades that crippled the insurer and threatened the stability of global financial markets.
Marlow, who was given permission to work four days a week while pregnant in 2012, requested to cut her schedule to three days a week when she was pregnant again in 2016, Stilitz said. At the time AIG was was carrying out a plan to cease trading in London, he said.
The restructuring, her high renumeration and her unwillingness to take a paycut resulted in her dismissal “not the fact that she is a woman or was on maternity leave,” Stilitz said.
Marlow’s lawyer said evidence put forward by AIG that it was committed to equal opportunities was “strikingly unimpressive.”
“When she submitted her first request to work four days a week she did not know anyone else who had done so or had done so successfully, she was a pioneer,” said Daniel Tatton-Brown, Marlow’s lawyer. “For such a large organization the evidence of accommodating the needs of working women is almost non-existent.”
A spokeswoman for AIG in London said the insurer was “fully committed to equal opportunities across all its businesses, including supporting working parents to fulfill their career aspirations alongside family commitments.”
More than a dozen traders have sued financial services companies in London’s employment courts in recent months as they seek to resurrect careers destroyed by scandals or claw back earnings lost due to alleged discrimination. Winnings are capped at about 80,000 pounds unless claimants can prove they were discriminated against on grounds of age, race or gender.