An equalities officer, who was harassed and sacked for blowing the whistle on management, has been awarded £442,466 in compensation for loss of earnings, with help from UNISON.
Pauline Scanlon, from Saltburn by the Sea, Cleveland, has been forced to take a lower paid job in a call centre since she was dismissed from her job at Redcar and Cleveland Council.
The 45 year-old had complained that the appointment of a Human Resources Manager was in breach of the council’s equal opportunities policy, as the post had not been advertised.
Following her complaint, Mrs Scanlon’s bosses carried out a two-year long campaign of harassment against her, which led to her being dismissed and denied an appeal.
But, in a damning judgement, the tribunal has found that the council’s chief executive and senior officers tried to cover up the breach of procedure.
UNISON’s General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:
“It is dreadful that an experienced employee, who was hired to fight equality for the council, has been bullied out of work because she blew the whistle on her employer.
“Pauline Scanlon has suffered years of stress and harassment and her reputation and career were ruined.
“UNISON is determined to clamp down on victimisation and sex discrimination in the workplace and will hold employers to account, no matter how long it takes.”
“Mrs Scanlon’s case shows just how whistleblowers can be victimised and the urgent need for greater support and protection.”
Pauline Scanlon said:
“While I am delighted to have won the case and am relieved it is all over, it does not take away the fact that my career has been destroyed.
“I have lost six years of my life because I dared to challenge the unlawful actions of the chief executive.
“The council abused its power, ruined my reputation and sabotaged my attempts to find another job.
“I hope that I can now move on and start to pick up the pieces of my life.”
Iain Birrell, from Thompsons Solicitors, said:
“Mrs Scanlon was suspended and then sacked on trumped up charges, brought about after she blew the whistle on her bosses.
“She felt she was duty bound in her role as equal opportunities officer to warn her superiors that they were breaking the law in ignoring their own equalities policies. “But, instead, she was victimised and harassed and ultimately pushed out of a job she felt passionate about.
“This is a clear message from the judiciary that sexual discrimination will not be tolerated.
“It should also give confidence to employees wanting to use their right to speak up when bad or unlawful decisions are made by those in power.”