A Bank of America trader said in a lawsuit that he had panic attacks after his boss assaulted him and made racist comments about his French and Lebanese heritage.
Maurice Marco, who is still an executive on the bank’s Euro Commercial Paper team, said in a witness statement at a London court Tuesday that his boss, Anthony Dullaghan, referred to some clients as “French rats” and called a Middle Eastern customer a derogatory term involving a camel. A lawyer for the Charlotte-based bank countered that Marco exaggerated and took his shirt off during a heated argument.
Marco, who is suing for racial discrimination, told the employment tribunal that he had panic attacks after Dullaghan assaulted him during a disagreement when Dullaghan was “pushing the index fingers of both hands firmly” into his chest and asked Marco to “sort this out outside.”
“My anxiety has changed every aspect of my existence. I am in a dark place,” Marco said. “I often wake bathed in sweat and gripped with fear, I start hyperventilating, my chest feels tight like a vice and I feel extremely claustrophobic.”
Bank attorney Sophie Belgrove said Dullaghan, who no longer works at the lender, had given a different account of the disagreement and suggested Marco had exaggerated.
“You were shouting at Mr. Dullaghan and you were being aggressive,” she said. “You took your shirt off altogether and stood there bare-chested.”
Elspeth Lynch, associate general counsel and managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, declined to comment. Dullaghan, through Lynch, also declined to comment.
Marco is one of half a dozen executives to sue banks at London’s employment tribunals in recent months. Winnings are capped at about 80,000 pounds ($99,000) unless claimants can prove they were victims of discrimination or abused for blowing the whistle on corporate misconduct.
The trial started Tuesday after both sides failed to reach a settlement during noisy talks outside the courtroom.
Most of the first day’s evidence focused on the altercation that Marco said left him suffering with anxiety. One employee who witnessed the argument said Marco was the aggressor and was shouting louder than Dullaghan, Belgrove said.
Marco’s witness statement listed about half a dozen exchanges with Dullaghan that he claims amounted to “racist abuse.”
In 2009, when Marco began training for a pilot’s license, Dullaghan joked that due to his Lebanese background he might be “a terrorist who had learned to fly in order to carry out a suicide bombing using an aircraft akin to the 9/11 attacks,” according to Marco’s statement.
In January 2015, when Marco was moving to a new house, Dullaghan asked in front his team whether the police had “cordoned the neighborhood off” because “usually when highly explosive materials are transported the police cordon off the area,” he said in the statement.