Female workers sue Japanese bank for sexism in Britain

LONDON — Two female employees are suing Japanese bank Nomura in Britain for three million pounds after claiming they suffered sexist and racist behaviour from male colleagues, reports said Tuesday.

Maureen Murphy, 30, and Anna Francis, 37, claim they endured sexist comments from co-workers at Japan's top securities firm, one of whom described a woman's breasts as "honkers," the reports said.

Murphy alleges she was also told women belonged at "home cleaning the floors," the Daily Telegraph said.

The women are suing the bank in the employment tribunal in London for 1.5 million pounds each in compensation for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.

Murphy, a senior analyst, and Francis, a director who speaks fluent Japanese, moved to Nomura after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September last year as part of a buyout by the Japanese bank.

But the pair claimed their Japanese bosses withheld work and sacked them within weeks because they were female and non-Japanese, the Evening Standard newspaper said.

Their barrister Michael Duggan told the tribunal: "This organisation is institutionally racist and sexist in the way it behaves."

Normura denies the allegations and says they lost their jobs as part of a fair redundancy process.

"To suggest they were selected (for redundancy) on the basis of their race or sex is wholly unfounded," a Nomura spokesman said.

In legal papers, Murphy claimed that during a business meeting one male client said to her female colleague: "Oh, you don't have your honkers out today I see."

The documents said: "Miss Murphy was initially not sure what he was referring to but clarified honkers referred to her breasts.

"She went on to say there was no point in standing up to him as he would smear your reputation in the entire market and that ultimately it was better just to accept it."

Murphy also claimed that when she was chatting to a trader about hiring a cleaner he allegedly said "Well, you're a woman. That's where you belong - at home cleaning the floors".

At a team dinner, another male colleague allegedly said: "Everyone knows the key to cheating on your wife is not getting caught," the Daily Telegraph said.

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