‘My partner and I lived above a pub. She worked behind the bar and the landlord offered me a job in another company he ran. I started my employment and it was over in one week – the shortest employment I’ve ever had.
‘It was the Friday night when it all went wrong. The landlord gave me a lift back from my shift with a colleague. It was the worst car ride I’ve ever had. I wish I’d never got in that car. He started making comments, showing off in front of his colleague. It got really inappropriate and I felt so uncomfortable at what he was saying, especially when he started asking me questions about my sexuality.
‘After he’d dropped off his colleague he just stopped the car. I didn’t know what he was going to do. He looked at me and then he propositioned me and said we could have an affair without telling his wife. I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was 18 at the time and he was about twice my age, and we lived in the same building. A million things were going through my head.
‘I was so nervous. I kept saying we should just go back and eventually he drove back to the pub. We got out of the car and then he groped me. I jumped – he’s a big guy but I challenged him. I was desperate to get back inside. It was dark and I thought anything could happen. I just couldn’t understand why this was happening.
‘We went back into the pub and he went straight upstairs. My girlfriend was behind the bar and she could tell something was wrong so I told her what had happened. We decided to tell his wife – we felt she had a right to know – but it led to a huge argument. We ended up packing our bags and walking out. It all happened so fast. I’d lost my job and my home, and he was threatening to come back and hurt us.
‘After that I felt I was in limbo. Everything had changed in 24 hours and I felt I was back to square one and there was nothing we could do because it would be my word against his. Without any hard evidence I thought no one would believe me and then I’d be called a liar.
‘I went to the Law Centre and sat down with Andrew. I told him my story and he brought Sarah in. They listened to everything and said that I had a solid case. It was then that I realised the landlord had broken the law. It went from there. It was a long process of gathering information, witness statements etc. but Sarah was absolutely brilliant and put in so much work.
‘I was so nervous on the court day. I’d never had to face anything like that before. The landlord was very intimidating and I found it hard to have to go through everything again, but the moment Sarah opened her mouth everyone was silent. She was amazing and so supportive. Knowing she believed me and was willing to fight for me made a huge difference.
‘Eventually the landlord admitted to everything and a judgment was granted in my favour. It was such a relief and I was so happy. It wasn’t over there though because he held off paying for as long as he could and we had to go to court again, provide proof that he had the money and involve the bailiffs. It took a long time and I found it very stressful – it felt like it had taken over my whole life – but I’ve finally received my money.
‘I can now close that chapter of my life. It’s done. I’ve been through it and come out on top.‘
Ellie* came to the Law Centre having been dismissed from her job because she refused the sexual advances of her employer. We were able to represent her and take her former employer to an employment tribunal for sexual harassment and victimisation. We won as the employer declined to give any evidence on the day, preferring to advance his wife as the only witness. There were difficulties enforcing the tribunal award which in the end was secured by bailiffs and amounted to a little over £10,000.
*not her real name