Firm denies claims from sacked worker

A CLACTON carer faces weeks of waiting before being told if an employment tribunal has upheld her claim of disability discrimination.Caroline Hill also alleges she suffered unfair dismissal when she was sacked from her job at Clacton Family Trust Ltd in February 2001.

A CLACTON carer faces weeks of waiting before being told if an employment tribunal has upheld her claim of disability discrimination.

Caroline Hill also alleges she suffered unfair dismissal when she was sacked from her job at Clacton Family Trust Ltd in February 2001.

The trust, which cares for young people with profound learning difficulties at its home in Pier Avenue, claims that Miss Hill's dismissal followed an admission that she had taken illegal drugs.

When the tribunal at Bury St Edmunds opened last month, manager Jennifer Otte said she had been very disturbed when Miss Hill confided that she had taken five Ecstasy tablets and attempted suicide.


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Mrs Otte said she had decided to dismiss her on the spot in order to ensure the safety of vulnerable residents at the home.

Company secretary of Clacton Family Trust Ltd, Colin Hawkins, told the tribunal when it resumed yesterday : "I supported the decision since I did not think it was appropriate that someone under the influence of drugs should be looking after our residents".

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At an appeal against her dismissal Miss Hill had refused to answer any questions or provide any explanation for her admission which left himself and chairman David Thompson with no choice than to confirm her dismissal, said Mr Hawkins.

But giving evidence last month, Miss Hill said she had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the time having witnessed a fatal accident while on an outing with four residents from the home six months earlier.

Miss Hill said she had suffered from nightmares, sleepless nights and depression after seeing a motorcycle stunt show which went wrong at Clacton Football Club's ground in August 2000.

She said that her sacking, for alleged gross misconduct, had been wholly unfair. Consultations with specialists had shown her to have the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, she said.

Clacton Family Trust Ltd is disputing whether Miss Hill actually saw the fatal accident. Mr Thompson said that residents who she had been accompanying appeared to not be upset at all.

Solicitor Julia Wakelam, appearing on behalf of the charity, said that the tribunal had shown that Miss Hill's memories of events were "variable" and that there were huge inconsistencies in her evidence.

Ms Wakelam said that despite the stunt show accident having taken place in August 2000, Miss Hill's claim of having suffered post traumatic stress disorder had only emerged last October.

Wayne Beglan, solicitor for Miss Hill, alleged that Mrs Otte's decision had been a "reflex" reaction to what she had been told and that further investigation should have been carried out before the dismissal took place.

Tribunal chairman David Crome said that after hearing three days of evidence, it was likely to be at least a month before a decision could be announced.

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