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August 31, 2002

Legal Victory for UBS In Discrimination Case

By Peter Chapman

Union Bank of Switzerland won a victory in its four-year legal battle against a former assistant Nasdaq trader's sex discrimination lawsuit.

The big bank was sued in 1998 by Suzanne Raiola, an assistant trader at its UBS Securities unit, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Raiola charged UBS denied her a position in the newly formed UBS Warburg because of her gender. The court disagreed and recently ruled that a February NASD arbitration award siding with UBS would stand.

UBS Warburg was formed in 1998 by the merger of UBS Securities and SBC Warburg Dillon Read. Raiola claimed she was denied an opportunity to interview for a position on the new Nasdaq desk. Raiola was fired in April of that year.

Raiola, a UBS employee from 1996, claimed all of the men in her department were either interviewed for or offered positions on the new desk. She was not interviewed, she claimed, because she was the only woman on the desk.

As proof, Raiola noted that men with less seniority than she were offered assistant trader jobs.

At the NASD hearing, UBS Warburg's Nasdaq desk head Jack Francis testified that experience was only one measure of the quality of an assistant trader. Other factors such as intensity, a desire to excel and attention to detail are also pertinent. UBS witnesses testified Raiola was not a strong performer as measured by these criteria. In particular, she spent a significant amount of time on personal telephone calls, they said.