RSS Feed

Legal Updates

More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

Charity worker wins £115,000 compensation after being wrongly sacked for whistleblowing

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Miss C Robinson v Mind Monmouthshire Ltd Miss Robinson worked as a Community Outreach Worker for mental health charity Mind.

The tribunal heard that within the open plan office environment there was frequent bad language and banter which overstepped the boundaries of acceptability in terms of equality and diversity. There was reported to have been racially and sexually offensive language and comments made that were derogatory to people with mental and physical disabilities.

Mind did not deny this but instead sought to explain that if there were members of staff who conducted themselves in this way it was a means of letting off steam in what could be a challenging environment, given the nature of the service and some of the serious difficulties that they were assisting service users with. It was in effect a form of ‘gallows humour’. The tribunal found that the use of such language was not only distracting in an open plan office environment but it was also offensive.

In August 2016 Miss Robinson overheard and saw members of staff imitating people with physical disabilities and laughing. There was some participation by a manager. Miss Robinson was upset, shocked and offended. She contacted the manager on the phone to make her aware of what she had observed in the office. The following day she felt that she was ignored by the manager and some other members of staff.

Miss Robinson did not want to raise a formal grievance/complaint due to her previous traumatic experience of pursuing a grievance working for a former employer.  She also raised a “protected disclosure” (“whistleblowing”) regarding the incident. No attempt was made to resolve the issue and further similar incidents occurred involving offensive banter.

In March 2017 she started to develop symptoms of dissociation and suicidal thoughts. Robinson informed Thomas of this and was referred for counselling. She was then diagnosed by occupational health in June 2017 with anxiety and depression, on top of her complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

Former NHS nurse Miss Robinson took time off sick in the months following the incident and an occupational health report recommended she return to a new role away from other staff members. While she was off sick Miss Robinson raised a grievance but her concerns were dismissed by the charity after an internal investigation. She appealed but the decision was upheld.

Miss Robinson later resigned from her job at Mind Monmouthshire Ltd claiming she was constructively dismissed. The tribunal concluded Miss Robinson’s claims for automatically unfair dismissal, failure to make reasonable adjustments and victimisation were well founded.

She was awarded £115,657.50 in compensation.

Receive more HR related news and content with our monthly Enewsletter (Ebrief)