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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