Woman “pushed out” of Council job was unfairly dismissed, Tribunal rules

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that a former Council worker who claimed to have been “pushed out” of her job was victimised and unfairly dismissed.

Karen Whitmore first challenged ex-employer Middlesbrough Council on grounds of unfair dismissal, victimisation and harassment earlier this year, after she claimed to have been persecuted by her employer for “whistleblowing”.

According to reports, the 49-year-old started working for the Council in 2002, and was dismissed during a genuine management restructure in 2016.

But the former assistant director of organisation and governance told the Tribunal she was “forced out” after being pressured to “cover up” alleged failings of how property sales were handled.

She alleged that superiors had asked her to unlawfully alter an internal audit into the sale of certain Council properties.

Ms Whitmore also told the Tribunal that she had been subjected to continuous victimisation as part of the Council’s “laddish culture”.

She alleged that Council chief executives had made derogatory comments about her in emails and other correspondence, referring to her as “fatty and useless”.

Officials also allegedly told Ms Whitmore that she ‘needed to get a sense of humour’.

The Tribunal dismissed Ms Whitmore’s claims of harassment in relation to whistleblowing.

However, it upheld claims that the former Council worker had been unfairly dismissed and victimised.

A written judgment states: “The claimant’s case involves serious allegations about the conduct of the most senior employees of the respondent… this reserved decision cannot address wider concerns about property transactions.

“We have limited our findings to those necessary to resolve the live issues before the Tribunal and only those.”

Details of any financial settlement which may result from the reserved judgment have not yet been disclosed.

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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a partner in the Employment team of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. As an Employment Relations Specialist, she advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. She joined the firm in 2011 after training and qualifying at Vizards Wyeth Solicitors in London, where she practiced employment law and commercial litigation.