Magic circle firm Linklaters has rejected claims at an employment tribunal that a paralegal was dismissed after she rejected a senior colleague's advances, saying her contract was terminated in the wake of ‘disruptive and frustrating’ behaviour at work.
The claimant, Fatima Imran, alleges that she was subject to three incidents of sexual harassment between 2018 and 2019 when she was working as a paralegal at Nakhoda, Linklaters’ technology business. She argues that her contract was then terminated because she had rejected the advances of Partha Mudgil, then chief operating officer of Nakhoda.
Linklaters and Mudgil deny all wrongdoing. The tribunal heard today that Imran had been ‘disruptive’ and ‘frustrating’ at work, and had been ‘dishonest’ in respect of her time-sheets. Under cross-examination, Luke Martin-Fuller – who worked at Nakhoda at the relevant time – told the tribunal that the team was ‘fed up’ with her behaviour.
‘We had decided that it was more trouble than it was worth to have you around much longer. It was becoming clear that you were no longer putting in as much value as you were detracting value from the team,’ Martin-Fuller said. He added that he had never observed any flirtatious or inappropriate behaviour towards Imran.
The claimant argued that Linklaters had promised to extend her three-month contract at a higher rate of pay, which the firm failed to honour when it terminated her contract early. Mudgil rejected this, saying it had been made ‘absolutely clear’ to Imran that any extension and raise would be subject to her performance and to business need.
Describing the meeting in which Imran was dismissed, Mudgil said: ‘You screamed, you shouted, and you said you were going to bring a claim against the firm and myself, and I said that was your right.’ He added that she was escorted out of the building by security.
Under cross-examination, Mudgil also denied touching the claimant’s leg at a team breakfast; standing too close to her in the office; and moving his eyes and head at a team drinks event to convey that she should leave the bar with him.
‘It’s not possible that I would have forgotten that I had sexually harassed someone at breakfast,’ the respondent said. ‘None of the incidents that are part of this claim happened.’
The hearing continues.
Update: Closing submissions were delivered on Thursday 17 June. For the respondents, Charlotte Davies said the claimant was not a credible witness and that there were ‘serious inconsistencies’ in her accounts.
Imran strongly denied this, saying it was ‘totally incorrect’ to describe her evidence as inconsistent. She reiterated her position that she would not have been dismissed from Linklaters had she not rejected Mudgil’s advances.
Judgment was reserved.