Ex-Merrill UK Lawyer Again Challenging Firm's Actions

June 6, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former Merrill Lynch lawyer in London who recently settled sex discrimination claims with the company is now challenging a reference Merrill provided for her Columbia Business School MBA application that described her as "average."

A central London employment tribunal on Monday began hearing the newest challenge from Elizabeth Weston who left Merrill in March 2004 and now works for Morgan Stanley, according to a Reuters report.

According to Reuters, Nicholas Hall, general counsel at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, who gave the reference, was required to rate Weston’s performance as compared to her peers. Hall wrote, according to the news report: “Overall I would assess the applicant’s performance as average. I note a number of measurements in the last appraisal were in the highest category. The overall rating ‘achieved requirements’ is itself indicative of a high standard.”

Merrill officials denied Weston was further wronged by the recommendation to Columbia, saying in a statement, according to Reuters: “This is an opportunistic claim without merit. This case centers on a letter of reference. We believe the letter is both fair and factual.”

Last year Weston accused Merrill Lynch of sex discrimination and constructive dismissal, alleging that she was mistreated by the firm when she reported that a former senior Merrill Lynch lawyer made lewd comments at the bank’s Christmas party in 2003. UK newspapers estimated the settlement at more than $910,000.