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An NRI senior executive is suing the Dutch bank ING for more than 100,000 pounds alleging that she has been a victim of racist remarks in the bank and that her career hit a ‘glass ceiling’ because of her race.

Forty two-year-old Meena Sagoo alleged that not long after joining the bank her boss told her how the rest of the staff had likened her to a character in the popular BBC TV comedy, The Kumars At No 42 . Sagoo who earns 80,000 pounds a year will claim at an employment tribunal that another Asian, Brij Bharati, was nicknamed Bindi Bhaji – an Indian dish of okra and spices – by boss Richard Mutter.
Sagoo has also alleged that she was also discriminated against in her career. She said that she had met Mutter in June 2004 to discuss her career development.

“I think that he was a bit startled when he asked me whether I would be interested in doing his job, when I said, ‘I want to go much higher in the organisation’,” another report in the Independent quoted her as saying.

“I also told him that there appeared to be no racial diversity at the senior levels within ING.”She said that she applied for promotion in early 2005 but was not interviewed by Mutter. Sagoo, hailing from the west London borough of Hounslow, had joined the bank in 2002 and was made a vice president a year later. She developed computer systems for the bank’s human resources team.

In May last year, she was demoted and in October this year she became the only member of staff to be transferred to another company. She said that she has been staying off work since then due to depression.

This is the second racism case ING is faced with in quick succession.Last week, Britain’s employment tribunal ordered the bank to pay a 20,000 pound compensation to Allan Ho, a Chinese worker, who also claimed racial harassment in office. Both Mutter and the bank have denied Sagoo’s allegations.

According to the Independent, the bank issued a statement: “Sagoo made a number of allegations… not all of which were previously raised with us in her grievance. Where allegations were raised, they were extensively and properly investigated by ING. “Her grievance was not upheld and ING strongly denies that she has been discriminated against. ING is committed to a clear and open policy of respecting diversity in the workplace,” the bank stated. ING had entered investment banking in 1995 taking over the loss-making British bank Barings.

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