Bullying pushed probation officer out of job11 November 2009
He was told he would be transferred to a desk-bound role
UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, is again calling on employers to root out the workplace bullies, as part of its Bully Busters* campaign. The call to action comes after a probation officer was bullied out of a job he had held for 16 years.
Dominick Lee, 54, from Bexley, South London, was awarded £83,000 for being unfairly dismissed, after he was sacked by the London national probation service in July 2007.
In February 2006 Dominic was given just three days notice that his court-based job no longer existed. He was told he would be transferred to a desk-bound role. Mr Lee complained to his bosses that the sudden transfer was ‘collective bullying’, but was suspended from his job in December 2006.
He was sacked seven months later, when an internal disciplinary hearing found that his failure to move jobs amounted to gross misconduct. UNISON backed Mr Lee’s case and took the claim to the Croydon employment tribunal.
The tribunal ruled that Mr Lee’s dismissal was unfair, and that the decision to transfer him, then dismiss him for not changing jobs, was unreasonable. Mr Lee was awarded the maximum compensation, and an additional award, because his employers refused an order from the court to reinstate him.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “All employees deserve to be treated with respect at work, and bullying of any form cannot be tolerated. Dominic was a very experienced probation officer and was treated appallingly. His case proves that, together with the help of a union, staff can and should hold bullies to account, and get the fair treatment that they deserve at work.
“UNISON has launched a Bully Busters campaign to challenge the culture of intimidation that is making many workers’ lives a misery. We know that too many people are suffering in silence- it is time to stand up, be heard, and ban the bully.”
Dominick Lee, said: “The bullying meted out by my manager, and the lack of intervention from other managers, forced me out of a job I had worked in for 16 years. I loved working in the probation service, but there is no way I should have been made to put up with such poor treatment. I would advise anyone else in my position to get help as soon as possible, before things get out of hand. I am pleased that I can now put this all behind me and get on with my life.”
His solicitor Maliha Rahman, of Thompsons Solicitors, who were instructed by UNISON, said: “Mr Lee was treated appallingly by his employer, who he had worked successfully for during his 16 years of service. The employment tribunal recognised how unreasonable national probation service London had been and as a result awarded Mr Lee the maximum compensation it could. This case shows just how important it is for employees to stand up for their rights when they believe an unfair decision has been made.”
*UNISON launched its Bully Busters campaign, in association with Company Magazine, earlier this month, and released a survey showing that one in three young women had been bullied at work.
The Bully Busters campaign is calling for the government to revise the current Dignity in the Workplace bill to include an anti-bullying policy, which is enforced by employers.
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