"I'm here on a work matter"
A nightclub dancer who was hired as a personal secretary by a solicitor, has failed in a claim for unpaid wages against the solicitor's law firm.
The 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. 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 an "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.
The law student attended some typing course, 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 he 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.
An Eldwick Law partner told the tribunal that AD had not gone through the formal recruitment process to employ BR, and had not sought authority from senior management for the hire. The tribunal heard that BR had never come to the firm's offices, or received an employment contract, or met anyone else who worked there.
Judge Martin, presiding, said AD's conduct was "extraordinary" and he slammed the solicitor for acting "inappropriately" towards BR from the outset, including several "inappropriate WhatsApp messages".
However, he said that it was "surprising" that the woman did not report AD to the firm, "if she truly believed she was employed by them." He deemed that the firm had no knowledge of how BR came to work for AD, and no knowledge of the working arrangements.
The judge found that BR was employed by AD only and was not employed by Eldwick Law. The tribunal dismissed BR's claim against the firm.