A UK-based Nigerian lawyer Victor Nwosu has been fined almost £45,000 for making erotic remarks at a female job applicant.
The 48-year-old Nwosu, head of a law firm, was quoted as telling a 22-year-old female applicant ‘mmm, I like what I see’ during a job interview.
The victim told a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal panel that Nwosu informed her that “I only employ beautiful women” and asked whether she had a boyfriend, according to a Metro UK report.
The candidate, who has a first-class degree and a master’s, had applied to be a paralegal but was left sobbing after the “traumatic” interview.
According to her, Nwosu “undressed me with his eyes and I felt like a piece of meat.”
“He said I was very, very beautiful. He told me that I have to wear skirts when I come to work, he doesn’t like it when women wear trousers,” she said while narrating the incident to her friends.
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.
Nwosu offered the woman a role which she turned down, and instead reported him to prevent other women from being in a “similar position.” telling him: ‘This is in no small part due to the unprofessional conduct displayed throughout the interview which led to me feeling uncomfortable.’ She told the tribunal: “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 sexual connotations.
‘Asserting that women should wear “skirts and heels” were opinions which, in the Tribunal’s view, could only be held for sexual 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 sexual 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 sexual manner’.
Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola