Law firm boss ordered to pay out £20,000 for sexual harassment

THE boss of a Bolton law firm has been ordered to pay £20,000 for sexual harassment to a young female lawyer he asked to marry him in a job interview.

Asghar Ali, who runs AA Solicitors, treated her “as a woman evidently to be present in the office for his pleasure and gratification, rather than to work”, an Employment Tribunal in Manchester said on July 14.

Ali, 47, was found to have embarked on a campaign of sexual harassment, which she said included telling her of his intention to have a bed installed in one of the rooms of the office.

He then “turned nasty” when she “politely rejected his advances”, and made her redundant after she told him she had a boyfriend.

Ali and his firm were jointly ordered to pay her over £20,000 compensation by an Employment Tribunal in Manchester.

The payout was made up of £14,000 for injury to feelings, aggravated damages of £4,000 and loss of earnings of £2,111, plus interest.

Now the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has rejected a challenge by Ali and his firm, saying that the woman deserved every penny.

Mr Justice Kerr said: “This was a young woman at the start of her professional career, and Mr Ali was an older man in a position of power and authority”.

She claimed that “during the initial job interview he asked her what her star sign was, and probably in a joking manner proposed marriage, although he was already married”.
The judge went on: “From the first meeting in the job interview he treated her in a demeaning and disrespectful manner, as a woman evidently to be present in the office for his pleasure and gratification, rather than to work and develop her skills as a lawyer.

“When she politely rejected his advances he turned nasty…she lost her job as a result,” he added.

Barrister, Stephen Willmer, for Ali and his firm, said the payout was too generous and ought to be cut. But Mr Justice Kerr disagreed, saying: “This was a young lawyer’s first job in law.

“We consider that the reasonable person in the street would regard the law as deficient if it did not mark such conduct with awards that recognise how humiliating it is for a worker to lose her job, because she is not willing to play a sexually charged role allotted by her employer.”