52 year-old Robert Schon seems to have a successful career. Joining top City law firm Simmons & Simmons in 1984 from what is now KPMG, Schon made partner in 1988. An active member of the American Bar Association Tax Committee, the Simmons & Simmons man is regarded as an expert on a wide range of corporate tax issues.
The Sunday Times now reports, however, that Schon recently stunned his firm by lodging a claim for racial harassment in connection with inappropriate remarks he alleges were directed at him by two junior colleagues as he was leaving a meeting at the firm earlier this year. Simmons & Simmons has denied that anything inappropriate occurred and say that the junior employees were merely discussing a forthcoming trip to Poland, when one suggested that they visit the former concentration camp at Auschwitz. The other employee is said to have responded, as Schon passed by, that such a visit did not really fit in with the main purpose of the Poland trip, which was to attend a stag do.
The law firm has said that it will vigorously contest any claim and has described the allegations as 'absurd'. The newspaper also quotes unnamed Simmons & Simmons 'sources', who have suggested that Schon's claim might be related to 'a disappointing annual career review' and the fact that partner's equity drawings have now fallen at the firm for the last three years in a row.
Simmons & Simmons was founded in 1896 by Jewish twins.
The last City discrimination claim to have a link to Auschwitz involved a Jewish broker and what was then Tullet & Toyko Liberty in 2000. Laurent Weinberger, whose grandmother died at Auschwitz, was ordered to wear a Nazi uniform after coming in late for work one day in May 2000. Weinburger also claimed that he had been called 'Yiddo' and 'Jew Boy' by his manager and a colleague.
This case was eventually settled. Tullet & Tokyo denied the charge of racial discrimination, but confirmed that the incident with the Nazi uniform did take place and said that it had been 'wholly inappropriate'.