The London-based banker had worked at the firm for 23 years.
A former official at the London branch of Asia-based United Overseas Bank is suing for unfair dismissal, claiming he was denied a new job because he was not Asian, Bloomberg reported.
This news service has contacted UOB for comment on the matter and may update in due course. It had not received a reply at the time of going to press.
Daniel Smith, who worked at UOB for 23 years, was quoted saying that a manager told him that a candidate from Southeast Asia was a better “fit” for a role. Smith said the minutes of the meeting were later altered when he queried the comments, and he lost his position shortly afterwards.
“To have been overlooked for an alternative role, and discriminated in the way I was, is such a big letdown given everything I had given to the bank over what has been most of my adult working life," Smith was reported as saying in a court filing.
The news service quoted UOB’s lawyer saying that Smith was "kicking up dust" to get a larger payout, and that the other candidate was simply better qualified.
Smith, who was a senior officer in the bank’s treasury business, was initially asked to apply for new roles as the London branch ceased to offer clearing services. He said that the general manager Andy Cheah told him that he had been unsuccessful because the bank had found an Asian candidate "who would fit into UOB well."
While Cheah acknowledged that he had used the "descriptive" term that the candidate was Asian, he said "her race and nationality has absolutely nothing to do with her selection."
Questioned by Smith’s lawyer, Cheah said he wanted "to mentally prepare" Smith for the fact that the candidate would be working alongside him in a small office. "With hindsight it wasn’t a great idea," he said, according to the report.
The news report did not specify when the tribunal was expected to rule on the matter.