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Nurse wins unfair dismissal case after being sacked for making racist comments

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Susan Brannan v Navigo Health and Social Care CIC Susan Brannan was a nurse working for a not for profit social enterprise which provides mental health care in North East Lincolnshire. Ms Brannan was accused of making a series of highly offensive and derogatory slurs about a group of African nurses working on her ward, including ‘this is our hard-earned NHS money bringing these over’.

An employment tribunal heard she was looking at the staff rota when she allegedly said ‘have you come to play spot the white person’ and ‘have you seen this, I’m the only white person on’. Ms Brannan brought a series of unfair dismissal claims to the tribunal, maintaining she was only fired because she had made whistleblowing complaints about Nigerian nurses turning up late, falling asleep on the job and force-feeding patients.

The 67-year-old, who was described by the tribunal as an ‘experienced and devout nurse’ of 25 years, was awarded £5,387.25 in compensation after a tribunal ruled her dismissal and appeal were not conducted fairly.

The tribunal ruled she was fairly sacked for making racist comments, but the procedure was not fair.

It heard how the ‘spot the white person’ comment was not heard by other witnesses and ruled it had been ‘lumped in with the other allegations’ despite a lack of any corroboration. With regards to the ‘NHS money bringing these over’ comment, the tribunal said the appeal did not interview any other witnesses.

Employment Judge Rachel Broughton said: ‘[Ms Brannan], more so than other colleagues, was resistant to the arrival of the new nurses and the changes.

‘Her language and attitude the Tribunal find, became divisive and her resentment… negatively affected her perception of the new nurses and this was exhibited in the ‘them and us’ language she was using.’

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