Ruling may open floodgate for bullied staff

A local government worker has won compensation for psychological damage he
claimed he suffered at the hands of his manager in a ruling that could entitle
thousands to more compensation for unfair dismissal.

Christopher Dunnachie, 36, had worked for Hull City Council for 17 years as
an environmental health officer before resigning in 2001, taking a lower status
job at Doncaster Council.

He claimed he moved because he had been "subjected to a sustained
period of harassment and bullying by his line manager, which went unchecked and
unrecognised by his employers".

The Court of Appeal heard how he was reduced to a state of "overt"
despair by his boss, so was entitled to compensation for the anguish he
suffered.

The ruling overturns an interpretation of the law dating back 30 years,
which limited any compensation to economic loss alone. It means tribunals can
now award damages where there is injury to feelings or self-respect.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, the union backing Dunnachie,
said: "Until today, a compensation award could only take account of
economic losses, such as being out of work or being forced to accept a lower
paid job."

Dunnachie received £51,700 plus a basic award of £3,000 at his original
hearing. This means he cannot benefit from the additional damages of £10,000,
as this would exceed the limit.

Hull City Council is expected to take the case to the House of Lords.

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