LONDON (AP) — A financial analyst who was fired by Citibank after claiming a two-sandwich lunch on expenses has lost a legal battle for wrongful dismissal.
A British judge has ruled that the bank was entitled to sack Szabolcs Fekete for gross misconduct because he lied when he claimed to have consumed two sandwiches, two coffees and two pasta dishes during a work trip, when he had really shared them with his partner.
Fekete, a financial crime expert working for the bank in London, sued for wrongful and unfair dismissal.
When the company queried his expenses for a July 2022 business trip to Amsterdam, Fekete emailed: “I was on the business trip by myself and that I had 2 coffees as they were very small.” He said he ate one sandwich for lunch “and had the second sandwich in the afternoon… which also served as my dinner.”
Fekete noted that the amounts were “well within” the bank’s 100 euro ($105) daily expense limit and said: “I don’t think I have to justify my eating habits to this extent.”
After the bank launched an investigation, Fekete admitted his partner, who didn’t work for Citibank, had traveled with him. But he continued to claim he ate all the food himself.
Fekete later claimed he had been undergoing personal problems after the death of his grandmother, was on medical leave from work and was on medication while he was answering emailed questions about his expenses claim.
Following a hearing in September, Employment Judge Caroline Illing ruled in favor of the employer, saying the issue was not “the sums of money involved,” but about Fekete’s failure to “make a full and frank disclosure.”
The judge said Citibank “requires a commitment to honesty from its employees.”
“I have accepted that the expense report may have been submitted in error,” the judge said. “However, I am satisfied that a dismissal in relation to the misrepresentation allegation alone would fall within the band of a reasonable response by a reasonable employer.”
The judgment was dated Sept. 19, but first reported by the Financial Times on Monday.