Magic circle firm Linklaters faced the employment tribunal today, rebutting claims of sexual harassment brought by a former paralegal.

The claimant, Fatima Imran, alleges that she was subject to three incidences of sexual harassment between 2018 and 2019 when she was working as a paralegal on a three-month contract at Nakhoda, Linklaters’ technology business.

Imran claims that Partha Mudgil – then chief operating officer of Nakhoda – deliberately touched her thigh at a team breakfast; that he stood too close to her; and that he moved his eyes and head at team drinks to convey that she should leave the bar with him and then said ‘let’s go’. The respondents deny all wrongdoing. 

For the respondents, Charlotte Davies stressed that Imran withdrew the ‘most serious’ allegation – that Mudgil has grabbed her bottom after a team dinner – after making a police complaint. The tribunal heard that police concluded the alleged incident ‘unequivocally’ did not happen, based on CCTV evidence. It was then deemed appropriate to interview the claimant under caution, Davies said.

Under cross-examination, Imran contended that the incident had occurred. ‘If it’s not captured, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,’ she said. Davies rebuffed this, saying the claimant had been ‘caught out’ by CCTV.

The claimant argues that her engagement at Linklaters was terminated in February 2019 because she had rejected Mudgil’s advances. The respondents deny this, saying the decision was based on a cumulation of issues with Imran’s performance. The tribunal heard, for example, that Imran asked to take a three-week holiday at a ‘crucial time’ before the launch of a new law tech product, sparking criticism from her colleagues.

Following the termination of her contract, Imran reported the alleged sexual harassment to the police. In March 2019, she also made allegations of sexual harassment through ACAS. 

The hearing continues.