UK: Former employees sue Lloyds TSB after bank fired them for pro-Palestine posts

Two women were dismissed in 2021 after posting messages calling for bank to divest from companies linked to alleged Israeli war crimes

Areeb Ullah

Customers use cashpoints outside a Lloyds Bank branch in central London (AFP)

Two former employees of Lloyds TSB are suing the British bank for discrimination and are seeking damages after it dismissed them for posting pro-Palestine messages on an internal communications channel. 

Afra Soheil and Aungbeen Khalid both faced investigations and disciplinary hearings in 2021 after they posted messages to fellow employees calling for Lloyds TSB to divest from and boycott companies accused by activists of profiting from alleged Israeli war crimes. 

The bank fired the two women and issued a sanction against them, saying that the posts had breached the company’s policies on “professional integrity”.

Lloyds TSB also reported the sanction against Soheil and Khalid to the Financial Conduct Authority. The sanction will remain on their record for the next six years and would be seen by any potential employer if they applied for jobs in the financial sector.

Both women have now taken Lloyds TSB to an employment tribunal in London on Monday after an appeal against their dismissal was denied.

They are seeking damages and compensation for their dismissal and for the bank to withdraw the sanction sent to the FCA.

The tribunal will last until 17 July when a tribunal judge will give their verdict. 

Soheil and Aungbeen wrote their messages in 2021 after Israel launched a military assault on the Gaza Strip that lasted 11 days and killed 250 Palestinians.

According to court documents Soheil posted her message on the internal channel after she could not return a monitor she received from Lloyds TSB made by the brand Hewlett Packard.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement accuses Hewlett Packard of providing hardware to Israel’s military and of being complicit in Israeli “racial segregation and apartheid”.

HP says it “adheres to the highest standards of ethical business conduct” and “implements rigorous policies to respect human rights in every market where we operate”.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing legal case.  We are committed to providing an inclusive place of work for everyone, and will always take appropriate action if colleagues fail to meet the expected standards set out clearly in our conduct policy.”

The tribunal will continue until 17 July.

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