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A senior banker who claimed she was victimised by her bosses yhas won her legal action for unfair dismissal against the American investment bank Merrill Lynch.

A senior banker who claimed she was victimised by her bosses has won her legal action for unfair dismissal against the American investment bank Merrill Lynch.

An employment tribunal in London ruled that Stephanie Villalba, 42, who earned £1m a year, was unfairly treated. It criticised the bank for trying to grind her down in litigation.

Mary Stacey, the tribunal’s chairman, said in the judgment: “We conclude the dismissal was unfair. She was shabbily and unreasonably treated.”

But the tribunal ruled that executives had not mistreated Ms Villalba because she was a woman. She alleged she had been the victim of a culture of sexism in which she was patronised and undermined by male colleagues. In a landmark legal action, she sued her employers for £7.5m.

The case had been closely watched in the City where there have been several other multi-million pound sex discrimination claims. Because the tribunal failed to uphold her claim for sex discrimination, Ms Villalba’s damages will be capped at £55,000 for unfair dismissal.

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