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Former midwife awarded more than £25k for discrimination from BHRUT

The Import Building in east London, where the tribunal was held. (Credit: Google)

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust has been told to pay out more than £25,000 to a woman it discriminated against.

(Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Sebastian Mann)

Kerry Pearce took the northeast London trust, her former employer, to an employment tribunal in late 2022.

The former midwife complained of constructive dismissal, disability discrimination and victimisation, claiming that she was disabled by reason of dysxpraxia – which affects coordination – and anxiety.

The trust denied all the claims, but a representative conceded in a preliminary hearing that they had knowledge of her disabilities.

Kerry, named in the tribunal and by the trust, produced a myriad of examples of what she felt was subpar treatment, all of which she says contributed to her decision to leave.

She said she had been poorly treated by a ‘number of managers’ between January 2019 and 2020, and moved into a clinical role without consultation, training or allowances made for her disability.

The final straw for her resignation on 1st October 2020, she claimed, was an informal meeting held by colleague Tracy Beason where she was ‘unfairly criticised’.

The central issue was the informal meeting, wherein an action plan was discussed after a patient had made five complaints about her.

Kerry understood that to be a formal measure, which she said should not have been discussed in the informal meeting.

According to the tribunal, she became “extremely upset” and began crying during the meeting, with Kerry arguing that there was no concern for her wellbeing and mental health. Additionally, she says she was not offered any support, or for a representative or someone to be present with her.

She later spoke with another colleague and explained that she wanted to resign as she felt she had no other choice.

Tracy disputed the events, saying it was “entirely appropriate” to discuss those points during such a meeting as they related to areas of serious concern.

However, the tribunal said that while her colleague’s conduct was “not calculated to destroy or damage [Kerry’s] trust and confidence in the [trust], it was likely to, and did, seriously damage it.”

The lack of support provision for Kerry was also classed as a form of discrimination against her, as per the Equality Act 2010. Under Sections 20 and 21, support must be allowed during such meetings.

Separate complaints regarding failures to make reasonable adjustments, in light of meeting targets, were dismissed by the panel.

In January 2024, a total of £25,254 in remedies was awarded to the claimant.

She was given a basic award of £1,614 and £500 for loss of statutory rights in relation to the unfair dismissal.

For the discrimination, she was handed £9,000 for ‘injury to feelings’ and £10,482 in loss of earnings from 24th December 2020 until 29th March 2021.

She also received interest on the former, worth £1,285.70, and on the latter, worth £2,373.04.

The trust has said it has proactively “reduced the risk” of a similar incident happening again.

After the judgment was issued, Janine La Rosa, BHRUT’s chief people officer, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’d like to apologise to Kerry. We’ve accepted the tribunal’s finding and we should have done more to support her.

“Since this occurred during the pandemic three years ago we have improved our practices to reduce the risk of it happening again.”

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