Unfair reference lands South Tyneside Council with £36,000 bill

A social worker who lost her job as a result of an unfair reference has accepted £36,000 in compensation from her former employer.

Hazel Merriott-Brown, 35, lost her chance of a new position as a family court adviser thanks to her former supervisor’s “extremely negative” reference.

She was offered the new job, subject to obtaining a reference from her employer South Tyneside Council, where she worked in the children and families team.

Merriott-Brown said: “At the time of nominating a referee it was evident my line manager would soon herself be absent from work, so I named my former supervisor as the council referee. I was shocked to find that the reference was extremely negative and raised concerns with my performance since starting with South Tyneside council.

“These concerns had never been raised with me prior to reading them in the reference either formally or informally. As a result, the job offer was retracted leaving me feeling humiliated and angry.”

Merriott-Brown was then unable to work for six months due to stress.

She secured the out-of-court settlement from South Tyneside Council with the support of her trade union Unison and personal injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors.

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