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Tax specialist sues Clifford Chance over excessive workload allegations

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But magic circle firm disagrees with former employee’s version of events

Image via Instagram (@stozca)

A tax consultant has brought legal action against Clifford Chance over allegations that managers at the magic circle outfit repeatedly piled excessive workloads onto her.

Priti Dhulia, 54, from Hounslow, West London, joined the Canary Wharf-based firm in September 1995 and was, among other things, responsible for preparing partners’ tax returns. According to The Telegraph, Dhulia has now filed a writ with the High Court seeking £150,000 in damages, claiming working at the firm left her suffering with “an adjustment disorder and occupational problems as a result of overwork and workplace bullying”.

A spokesperson for Clifford Chance said: “We disagree with the version of events presented in this case, however it would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing.”

Dhulia alleges she worked beyond her contracted 35-hour week and often completed tasks at home in the evenings and weekends. Moreover, she claims she was allocated around 50% of partners’ Inland Revenue returns to complete, while her two colleagues were given 33% and 17% respectively.

Priti Dhulia and her husband Viren (image via Facebook)

The tax expert (pictured above left) says she complained to Clifford Chance’s human resources department about her workload, but alleges nothing was done to address the situation.

Things escalated, according to Dhulia, when colleagues began commenting on the number of private calls she made in her native language of Gujarati. In an internal email quoted in the report, Dhulia’s line manager apparently flagged up the issue to her department head. It said:

The fact that these conversations are often not in English doesn’t help her (ie the fact that Natalie & Mary’s private calls are invariably in English helps make them blend more easily into the work continuum.)

Elsewhere, Dhulia claims that she was accused of lacking “a proper work ethic” and that her head of department’s “attitude towards [her] was in general aggressive and akin to that of a bully.” Continuing, the report states that Dhulia burst into tears during an “assertiveness at work” seminar in 2011 after she complained she was being bullied. Again, the tax specialist alleges that Clifford Chance took no action.

Three years on and Dhulia was sacked for “seriously negligent” behaviour after she apparently fired off a letter without consulting two senior Clifford Chance staff. However, her dismissal was “rescinded” by the firm just days later. As a result of her brief dismissal, the writ claims that she was left “constantly tearful, unable to sleep or eat, anxious and depressed”.

Dhulia was signed off work by her GP because she was suffering from severe stress, and she eventually resigned from the firm in September 2014. She spent a year off, but has now returned to work as a tax consultant for an estate agent. Dhulia — who now takes anti-depressants, according to the writ — claims she is now earning 30% less than she did at the magic circle giant.

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22 Comments

Anonymous

A writ? Yer nit en Scotland no Tommy boy ya bawbag.

Frustrated Writer

Katie was curious when Tom invited her out for coffee late one Monday afternoon. Katie had begun to defrost towards Tom since his parents visited, but there was still an awkwardness in their conversations, and they had not spoken of it since. She still held some anger, deep inside her, but that was not unique to Tom but was the general way she felt towards all men. Katie told herself Tom couldn’t be blamed for that, but then he was part of the problem. Being born male was unforgiveable. But she agreed to go with him, out of inquisitiveness if nothing else.

As they took a seat in Gino’s café at a small, slightly rickety wooden table, Tom took a long sip of his soya chai latte and looked at Katie apprehensively. Katie, sensing Tom’s unease, tried to look casual, sipping her black coffee. “So, what’s up Tom?” Katie eventually said, breaking the ice so Tom didn’t have to. “Do you need more help on those trainee retention articles?”.

Tom picked up a teaspoon and began slowly spinning it between his fingers anxiously, looking attentively at it as he did so. “Well, no. Thanks though. It’s nothing much. I just wanted to get your view on something before I went ahead”. He put the spoon down, pushing it at arm’s length away as if to force himself to stop fidgeting. He looked back at Katie. “You know me. You know my, um, secret”, he said, the volume in his voice dropping for the last word, as he glanced around the empty café. “So I was hoping you could give me a view”.

Katie moved forwards in her seat, placing her chin on her hand, demonstrating her concentration on Tom, who broke his gaze and looked down at the table for almost a full minute. “Yes…?” Katie prompted, expectantly.

Tom looked up and took the plunge. “I’m thinking of quitting. Packing it in. Going back to Scotland.”. He crossed his arms and looked out of the window across the grey, gloomy trading estate that the café shared with the Legal Cheek office, eventually looking back at her.

Katie was surprised, and her face showed it. Deep down she had wanted to forgive Tom, but hadn’t thought that he had suffered enough yet. He had insulted her Amal articles, and that would be hard or impossible to get over. But this would end all hope of a reunion. “But why? What about the retention rate articles? Who would write them?” was all Katie could offer, feebly. She did not want to make this personal.

“I can’t go on forever Katie. I just need to do this. I really never wanted this in my life.”. Tom began playing with his finger nails, turning away from Katie slightly back towards the window. “I really don’t want to live a lie. I had dreams. Dreams beyond trolling law firms for their retention figures whilst feeding Alcka Selzer to my boss and wiping sick off his face”. He paused. “I can’t fulfil them writing half-baked articles about what various City firms pay their newbie lawyers.”.

Katie could see from the resolve in his voice that his mind was made up. She knew she had no grounds to stop him. “So when are you going to tell Alex?”.

“Soon. I need to think up a way to tell my parents first, that I’m coming back, quitting my top career, without them cottoning on.”. Tom adopted a soothing tone. “Thanks Katie. Just for listening. You’ll be the first to know when I decide my leaving date.”. The pair looked at each other briefly, both undeniably feeling the old spark.

Katie broke the moment. “Well, let’s get back. Alex may wonder where we are!”. They both snickered. They knew that at that time of day Alex was either in a ditch sleeping off his latest hangover, or working diligently on tomorrow’s.

Anonymous

These stories are gold

another one

Natalie, is this you? lol lol

Anonymous

I feel sorry for her! That is the corporate life many young people want, a life full of depression, stress, money, prestige, suffering and regret. but at least you earn 100k+

Big dolla US PLAYA

Couldn’t hack the heat

Anonymous

As a partnership tax adviser she most definitely was not earning £100k.

Anonymous

They didn’t say that. Read again.

Anonymous

Swimming with sharks may result in you getting bitten.

Anonymous

Surely putting her picture online wasn’t necessary.

Anonymous

She is cute. Her hair looks soft. So does her skin.

Anonymous

Tom Facebook stalking this woman.

Makes a change from staring at KK’s bikini photos.

Anonymous

I bet those photos of KK are delightful.

Anonymous

Weak AF.

Clifford Chance Trainee/Pool boy

She didn’t have the worst job in the firm. I dread the Thursday curry day in the canteen.

World ( Mental) Health Organisation

Brilliant Frustrated Writer.
LC in a nutshell.

Anonymous

Fair play to her for sticking up for her rights and not letting herself get trampled on. Shame on the rest of us for being pathetic and just accepting the long hours as if it is reasonable.

Two partners just interrupted me as I ate my desk lunch. Un-fucking-believable. I do not care about the client. I hope we lose the pitch. I want to eat my lunch in peace.

Anonymous

Clifford Chancers – and their 5-a-side football team full of ringers.

Anonymous

Plus their Law Society rugby 7’s team

Steve Biko

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

I don’t even care about the merits of the case. I hope this lady wins. That will be payback for CC making me clean out their pool. The partners take a dump in the pool every Friday, after it’s been filled with fresh trainee tears.

Anonymous

Quit with your pool gag or I will make you gag.

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