Charity Worker Victimised After Being Denied Work

Homelessness charity, St Mungo’s has been ordered to pay former staff member, Leigh Andrews £17,500 (£4,000 for loss of earnings due to victimisation and £12,000 for injury to feelings, £1500 for interest payments) after it refused her locum shifts over an investigation that was dropped in 2004. The tribunal found that St Mungo’s victimised Andrews by refusing to give her work over an abandoned bullying investigation and equal pay claim from 15 years before.

Andrews worked as a Welfare Rights Coordinator for Broadway Homelessness and Support before it merged with St Mungo’s. In 2004, Andrews had given notice to resign and she was informed that bullying allegations had been raised against her by her Manager. No further action was taken after the initial investigation. Andrews was not spoken to during the investigation and she told the tribunal that she was concerned that the allegations had been “left up in the air”.

Shortly after leaving her position at Broadway, Andrews stated she discovered a male colleague had been paid more than she had for work that she considered to be of equal value. She lodged tribunal proceedings, but decided not to continue with the claim.

Andrews returned to work as a freelance consultant with St Mungo’s (July 2017–June 2018) and then she successfully applied to be part of the charity’s bank of locum workers in May 2018, and was also told she could be considered for management roles in the future.

The request was put to the Executive Director of HR who had previously worked at Broadway and had heard about the bullying allegations against Andrews because “they had been so extreme”. The CEO of St Mungo’s and Executive Director of HR withdrew the offer of locum work with the reason that “information has subsequently come to light surrounding your employment at Broadway”. She replied a few days later Andrews expressed concern and asking what the information was.

A reply by HR said: “We do not offer employment or work via our locum bank to any ex-employee of the organisation or any predecessor organisation either where they were previously subject to a disciplinary action or they resigned from/left the organisation at a time when a disciplinary investigation was underway”.

Following this, Andrews brought claims of victimisation to the tribunal, which ruled in her favour.

In his judgment, the judge rejected St Mungo’s explanation that the decision was taken because of the historic bullying allegations. The judge said it was likely the decision was made by the CEO and HR because of the earlier equal pay proceedings which led, “in part” to revoking the offer.

St Mungo’s have been granted an oral hearing to consider its grounds of appeal, and a date is still to be determined.

This case is a clear demonstration of how equal pay claims and previous accusations of gross misconduct can return to cause severe issues for an employer if they are later associated with detrimental treatment—even if the claims were not taken further at the time. Although this is an unusual case in that the bullying occurred 15 years ago, these things may still come back to bite you later down the line.

Cover photo courtesy Philip Veater via Unsplash

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