How Martin Searle Solicitors assisted a nurse in leaving a toxic workplace with compensation.
Agnes worked as a nurse at a private hospital in East Sussex.
Three of her colleagues discovered she wasn’t married which led them to speculate about Agnes’s sexuality behind her back.
They began to distance themselves and ignore her. When she entered the staff room, conversations stopped and she was no longer invited to after work drinks. It reached the point where the Health Care Assistants on her ward refused to do what she asked of them. Agnes felt isolated and bullied.
Agnes discovered that her colleagues were spreading untrue rumours about her being a lesbian and she complained to her managers who ignored her.
Matters came to a head when a patient fell out of bed on the ward. There was an internal investigation and these three members of staff falsely accused Agnes of neglect, which led to Agnes immediately being suspended.
During the investigatory meetings, Agnes strenuously denied the allegations of neglect. She also suggested that she was being scapegoated because her colleagues believed she was gay, describing the treatment she had experienced in recent weeks. The investigator said she did not want to discuss this and concluded that there was a disciplinary case to answer.
Agnes attended a disciplinary meeting with the Director of Nursing where she put forward all of the same points. Following the meeting she was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct. The Director of Nursing criticised Agnes for trying to blame her colleagues and he said that he was considering reporting Agnes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Agnes attended our Brighton office and we helped Agnes lodge an appeal against her dismissal and to mount a grievance about her colleagues’ perceived sexual orientation discrimination. We highlighted the contradictions between the colleagues’ statements and showed that management had turned a blind eye to the gossip and victimised Agnes for speaking out.
The hospital rejected Agnes’s grievance about her discrimination but upheld her appeal against dismissal. Agnes was reinstated with a final written warning and her loss of wages from dismissal to reinstatement were paid.
We assisted Agnes in appealing the grievance outcome on the grounds that her complaints about her colleagues had led to her being scapegoated by them. We argued that Agnes could not return to work until her grievance appeal had been resolved and her colleagues were disciplined.
We also helped Agnes lodge a claim at the Employment Tribunal for sexual orientation discrimination. We claimed that she had been subjected to direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Once her claim had been issued, the Hospital instructed solicitors and a settlement agreement was offered immediately.
Agnes agreed to accept a severance package based on six months’ pay and an agreed reference. We also secured an undertaking that the Hospital would not report Agnes to professional bodies or make derogatory comments about her.
These terms of settlement protected Agnes’s good reputation that she had earned over many years, and enabled her to move into new employment straight away.