Kirklees College lecturer wins £78,000 in Employment Tribunal unfair dismissal claim

MoJA former lecturer at Kirklees College has won almost £80,000 in an unfair dismissal claim brought after she suffered “mental torture” in the workplace.

Janette Hirst,  44, brought her Employment Tribunal claim against Kirklees College after a change of management meant that she was frozen out of the workplace and became seriously ill as a result. The former lecturer – who had worked for 12 years at the College before she quit her job in early 2014 – quit her job and pursued a claim for constructive dismissal against the College, stating that the College had broken the bond of mutual trust and confidence that exists between an employer and an employee by failing to follow its own grievance procedures and making false accusations against her.

The case came before the Employment Tribunal earlier this year. Ms Hirst stated in her evidence that she was not the only member of staff who had been bullied after the change in management in 2010 and that she became increasingly unhappy as a result. She stated in her witness statement that she became too ill to work in early January 2012 and was off work sick for a great deal of 2012 because of work-related stress that had been caused by her team leader’s “intimidating behaviour”.

Ms Hirst succeeded in her claim for constructive dismissal after Kirklees College’s barrister conceded liability for constructive dismissal on the second day of a three-day Employment Tribunal hearing. She was awarded £78,000 in lost earnings as a result of her claims – the equivalent of two-and-a-half years’ salary.

Melanie Brooke, vice principal for corporate services, stated after the Employment Tribunal judgment: “This is the first time a tribunal judgement has been made against the college, and we have reviewed our employment procedures as a result. It is always regrettable when a situation arises between the college and a member of staff.”

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that they stick to their investigation and grievance policies and procedures if they’re to avoid potentially expensive Employment Tribunal claims.”