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Charity worker wins tribunal after staff mimic disabled people

Catriona Robinson
Catriona Robinson Image credit:

A support worker for a leading mental health charity has won over £115,000 in compensation after she reported colleagues for insulting a disabled woman and people classified as mentally ill.

Catriona Robinson became distressed when she was trying to help a suicidal woman on the phone whilst her co-workers at mind were laughing and swearing in the background.

When Miss Robinson raised a complaint to management the staff at Mind Monmouthshire in Wales started to mock disabled people.

Robinson, then 49, handed in our notice and sued the charity for unfair dismissal after 'witnessing foul language daily and prolonged raucous laughter'.

This week she won a tribunal which stated her complaint should had been handled professionally because it was 'so serious and so in conflict with the apparent values of the organisation'.

Robinson worked in the Tenancy & Supported Living team as a support worker for Mind Monmouthshire in Abergavenny.

She was appalled after her manager Jamie Devine and co-worker Gail Morris started imitating people with disabilities.

Robinson, who has PTSD, added members of the management team, including Operations Manager Bernadette Kelly, found the disgusting behaviour funny.

At the time Robinson did not make a formal complaint in fear that her team would turn against her.

But after the shocking incident she was singled out from her fellow workers who continued to make ‘racially and sexually offensive' comments on a daily basis.

Robinson, who worked as an NHS nurse before joining the charity, found the behaviour 'unprofessional and offensive', as the bullying continued she started to suffer from anxiety and depression.

When a formal grievance was eventually raised it found Robinson was not bullied for making a complaint, although the behaviour from her co-workers, employed to support vulnerable people, was unacceptable.

The employment tribunal concluded: 'The matter was so serious and so in conflict with the apparent values of the organisation as a charity which catered for the needs of those with mental health disabilities, that the manager to whom the complaint was raised ought to have dealt with this robustly.

'We find that she did not... This was conduct that was tolerated and indeed encouraged in an open plan office by another manager and the Operations Manager.'

Robinson was awarded £115,657.50 in compensation, including £48,263.20 for injury to feelings, with interest, as well as over £40,000 for loss of earnings, and smaller amounts for loss of statutory rights and expenses. 

Manager Stephanie Thomas told Miss Robinson the behaviour was just ‘harmless banter’.