Newspaper worker loses tribunal

A MOTHER-of-four who claimed her employers were “callous” has been told to pay £250 after her sex discrimination and constructive dismissal claims were rejected.

Laurence Cawley

A MOTHER-of-four who claimed her employers were “callous” has been told to pay £250 after her sex discrimination and constructive dismissal claims were rejected.

Sali Austin, 45, lodged a claim with an employment tribunal against Anglia Newspapers and former colleague Kim Harris after resigning her post as motoring advertising manager at the Bury Free Press on May 25.

The departure followed her request to work part-time to look after her severely disabled daughter. Ms Austin, of Elmswell, claimed the request for a 16-hour working week had not been properly considered and accused Mrs Harris of “harassment and bullying”.


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The tribunal heard how Ms Austin, after having her flexible working bid turned down, was signed off work for four weeks with exhaustion. When she returned from work on April 17 last year, some of her previous clients were being dealt with by Mrs Harris. This, the bench heard, was to help Ms Austin in her return to duties.

The tribunal bench has now published its verdict and made the unusual step of fining Ms Austin £250 for “unreasonable conduct” against both Anglia Newspapers and Mrs Austin.

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Judge Jeremy Cole, bench chairman, said: “We regard it as very unfortunate indeed that this claim has been brought.”

He said not only had Anglia Newspapers tried to accommodate Ms Austin during her employment but continued to attempt a resolution before the start of the case.

He said this included an offer of re-employment which was rejected.

He added it was both “unfortunate”, “irresponsible” and “inappropriate” for Mrs Harris to have been included in Ms Austin's claim.

“Mrs Harris was clearly a calm and sensitive lady who, she told us, placed great store on integrity and family values,” Judge Cole said.

“We cannot find any evidence whatsoever to support her (Ms Austin's) assertion that Kim Harris had victimised or harassed her. The claimant's evidence against Kim Harris was so unreliably given we, unhappily, can place no regard upon it whatsoever.”

Judge Cole said the bench was “singularly unimpressed” with the evidence given by Ms Austin about the events after her request for flexible working.

“It was inconsistent, ill-judged, vitriolic, disproportionate and trivial.”

After the judgment, Mrs Harris said she had been deeply hurt by Ms Austin's allegations against her and the past year and a half had been extremely distressing.

She said she was simply relieved the case was now over and that the tribunal had reached the conclusions it had.

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