Who? Victoria Marks, 37, social welfare solicitor at London charity the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU).
Why is she in the news? Won £184,000 back pay for a domestic servant who worked in the UK for four and a half years, seven days a week, 18 hours a day, for just 11p an hour.
Permila Tirkey, an Indian woman of so-called ‘low caste’, left India to begin working for UK-based Mr and Mrs Chandhok in 2008. Cambridge Employment Tribunal heard that the Chandhoks forbade Tirkey, a Christian, from bringing her bible with her to this country or attending church. She was forced to sleep on the floor, was not allowed to contact her family and, although a bank account was set up in her name, the Chandhoks used it for their own benefit.
The tribunal found that there had been a ‘clear violation of her dignity’ and that there had been a shortfall in her wages under the national minimum wage of £183,773.53.
A remedy hearing on 5 and 6 November will determine how much Tirkey is entitled to for her employers’ acts of discrimination, failure to provide pay slips, failure to provide statutory rest, religious discrimination and failure to provide annual leave.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This was a fantastic example of the British justice system working well. The balance of power between Tirkey and the Chandhoks was hugely disparate, and yet Tirkey was able to appear before a tribunal and get redress.’
Dealing with the media: ‘My biggest challenge was balancing the need to protect my vulnerable client from media intrusion with raising public awareness of modern day slavery in the UK today.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘To tackle discrimination and inequality so as to protect the most vulnerable in society.’
Career high: ‘In 2012, I was one of five women solicitors who founded ATLEU in the face of austerity and legal aid cuts.’
Career low: ‘I’m very disappointed at the gulf between the government’s rhetoric around the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and its actions. Traffickers are still acting with impunity.’