A nightclub dancer offered work by a consultant solicitor was not employed by his firm, an employment tribunal has ruled. The now-deceased solicitor, referred to only as AD, had approached the woman at the club and offered her a job as his personal secretary. She had a young son and was studying part-time for a graduate diploma in law.

AD was a consultant solicitor with Eldwick Law, based in London and Bradford, and met the woman at the Playboy casino to discuss the position in more detail: she later told the tribunal she was offered a base salary of £14,000 and a 10% bonus. She was told not to wear shiny tights and claimed to have been told by AD that her background in West End hospitality would be an asset as she would be able to entertain and work alongside high net worth clients.

She was told that in her role, AD was ‘God’ and she was an ‘obedient little slave creature’ who was to work four days a week. No contract was provided, no bank account details were taken, there was no induction and AD did not pay the woman for the work she did or for expenses she incurred on his behalf. The tribunal heard that AD ultimately went to the claimant’s home and assaulted her and her four-year-old son, and was arrested by the police.

The woman brought proceedings on the basis that she was employed by Eldwick Law. The firm said she never came to its office and she never met anyone else who worked there. It was accepted by the tribunal that she had no relationship with the firm or its managers.

AD’s consultancy agreement was ended by the firm after he was investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority but refused to say what the investigation was about.

Employment Judge Martin said the firm had no knowledge of how the woman came to work for AD and no knowledge of the working arrangements. ‘What I have heard about [AD] is extraordinary. He offered the claimant terms which do not reflect how secretarial staff are remunerated by the [firm] and misrepresented his hourly rate. He acted entirely inappropriately towards the claimant, and it is surprising that she did not report him ... if she truly believed she was employed by them.’

The tribunal found that the woman was employed by AD and not by the firm, and the claim against the firm was dismissed.