"I'm here on a work matter."
An employment tribunal has ruled that a law student, who was was hired by a solicitor at the Playboy casino in London, should be paid over £28k as compensation for injury to feelings and for breach of contract.
A male solicitor, known as AD in the judgment, approached the woman, "BR", while she was working as a dancer at a club and offered her a job as his personal legal secretary.
He invited her for dinner at the Playboy Club to discuss the opening, telling her to “Look classy. I’m taking you to a proper place”.
AD (now deceased) was a consultant at Eldwick Law. BR was studying the graduate diploma in law, part-time.
The consultant solicitor met BR again at the Playboy casino to discuss the role in more detail. BR said she had researched Eldwick Law and was "excited about the possibility" of working there.
The employment tribunal heard that AD told BR that he saw "a lot of potential" in her background in "West End hospitality", which would be an asset to "entertain and work alongside high net-worth clients."
The solicitor said BR would be expected to pick up clients at night when they visited high-end restaurants and bars. The silver-tongued lawyer described himself as "God", said AR was to be his "obedient little slave creature," and gave her instructions not to wear shiny tights.
BR said that AD had offered her a base salary of £14,000 per year, plus a bonus of 10% of what she billed and received, plus 5% of what AD billed and received.
BR accepted that she was "rather naïve", and the tribunal noted "there were several inappropriate WhatsApp messages in the bundle". However, the tribunal said that the solicitor "acted inappropriately" towards BR from the beginning.
The law student attended some typing courses, paid for by AD. But she was not given an induction at the firm, nor did AD ask for her account details. She worked from her home or his home, and AD introduced her to people as his "personal legal secretary."
AD did not pay the law student for the work she did, nor the expenses she incurred on his behalf.
Things took a dark turn when AD "went to the claimant's home and assaulted her and her four-year-old son", and was arrested by the police.
Eldwick Law terminated AD's consultancy agreement when it emerged that he was being investigated by the SRA and he refused to tell the firm what the investigation was about.
BR made a claim for unpaid work against Eldwick Law, arguing that she had been employed by the firm. However, the claim against the firm was dismissed, as the tribunal held that Eldwick Law had no knowledge of how BR came to work for AD, and no knowledge of the working arrangements. Ultimately, the law student was not employed by Eldwick Law, the tribunal ruled.
Even so, the tribunal noted that the details about AD were "extraordinary" (not in a good way) and that he had "acted entirely inappropriately towards" BR.
In the separate employment hearing between BR and AD, the tribunal ruled that she should be paid almost £29,000.
The tribunal said that the complaint of harassment related to sex was "well-founded and succeeds", as did a complaint of victimisation.
The tribunal also said that AD was in breach of his duty in failing to provide the law student with written particulars of employment and also was in breach of contract in relation to notice pay and wages.
The tribunal awarded the claimant various sums, including compensation for injury to feelings, which totalled £28,986.85.
The tribunal's decision did not provide details as to how the payment will be made given that AD has died.