- Solicitor Victor Nwosu, 48, interviewed a young woman for a role as a paralegal
- He subjected her to repeated s*xualised comments and told her to wear skirts
- The first-class honours graduate rejected the job at DCK Solicitors in London
- The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered him to pay out nearly £45,000
Solicitor Victor Nwosu, 48, told the young woman, ‘Mmm, I like what I see’ and told her to ‘only wear skirts and high heels’, a disciplinary hearing was told.
Nwosu interviewed the 22-year-old for a position at London-based DCK Solicitors in April 2018.
She described how he told her ‘you’re very pretty’ and ‘I only employ beautiful women’ among other unwanted compliments, before quizzing her over whether she had a boyfriend or a brother.
Now, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has fined him £20,000 for his conduct and ordered him to pay additional costs of £23,550.
At the tribunal, Nwosu claimed ‘female activism’ was the problem and insisted he was the victim.
The young woman, who has a first class degree and a masters, said she was the first woman in her family to go to university and sobbed after the ‘traumatic’ interview.
‘I felt like a piece of meat’, she said, adding that she rejected his job offer and reported him to regulators the next day to prevent other women being put in a similar position.
The tribunal found that Nwosu, a solicitor of 17 years’ standing, was ‘s*xually motivated’ in his behaviour towards the woman, named only as Person A, when he interviewed her.
The woman said Nwosu arrived 20 minutes late for the interview and quickly began making inappropriate comments to her.
She said that she was so ‘horrified’ that when he briefly left the room, she messaged her friends and boyfriend, saying ‘I don’t know if I want to work here’ adding that she felt ‘scared’.
In messages to friends, she wrote: ‘He said that I was very, very beautiful. He told me that I have to wear skirts when I come into work, he doesn’t like it when women wear trousers.
‘He was undressing me with his eyes and he kept leaning forward and I’d lean back. I felt like an object. I felt so small. God I’m actually crying.
‘The owner of the firm is disgusting.’
The woman rejected a role as a paralegal at DCK Solicitors in northwest London after her interview with Nwosu
She described how she was wearing smart trousers, professional short heels, a white shirt and a black blazer.
‘I felt like my attire was appropriate for the interview,’ she said. ‘But Mr Nwosu told me he hated trousers and that he expected me to wear a skirt the next day.’
Nwosu offered the woman a role which she turned down, telling him: ‘This is in no small part due to the unprofessional conduct displayed throughout the interview which led to me feeling uncomfortable.’
The young woman said: ‘The interview was quite traumatic for me, it was the first paralegal role that I had ever applied for
‘I felt so violated as he was in a position of power as I was in an interview… I went home and cried.’
Nwosu, who said he is ‘happily married with teenage children’, denied all of the allegations and insisted Person A’s motive was related to the salary he offered her and the allegations were ‘brought about by malice’.
He told the hearing: ‘She has the power, her female activism, it’s female activism gone wrong, she has the power, that’s why I am here [because] she’s applied overt activism [and] I am the victim.
‘She’s embarrassed me and brought me here, she has the power.’
Nwosu said he always had ‘four to six women working for him’ and added: ‘I’m a very humble person, I hoover my own carpet in front of [the] staff.
‘You want to put the words of Person A over the words of a solicitor of the Supreme Court, trained, qualified for 15 years, [who] employs six staff?
‘For you to insinuate this is very rude and upsetting. Person A is not someone you can believe.’
The tribunal panel said they were ‘deeply concerned’ by Nwosu.
In their judgment, they stated: ‘Referring to Person A’s physical appearance in terms of “pretty”, “beautiful” and “mmm, I like what I see” could only, in the Tribunal’s view, be considered to have s*xual connotations.
‘Asserting that women should wear “skirts and heels” were opinions which, in the Tribunal’s view, could only be held for s*xual gratification.
‘Enquiring as to Person A’s personal relationships with regards to a boyfriend and whether she had brothers was designed to ascertain the viability or otherwise of a future s*xual relationship.’
The panel also said Nwosu’s company’s memo on work clothing ‘revealed outdated attitudinal shortcomings predicated on the objectification of women in a s*xual manner’.