Council equalities whistleblower awarded more than £400,000 by tribunal

A council equalities officer who was harassed and sacked after complaining to her superiors about the appointment of a manager has been awarded more than £440,000 by an employment tribunal.

According to the Local Government Chronicle, Pauline Scanlon was dismissed from her job at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council after pointing out that an HR manager’s post had not been advertised, and was therefore in breach of the council’s equal opportunities policy.

The tribunal found that the council’s then chief executive Colin Moore and senior officers tried to cover up the breach of procedure more than five years ago.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of union Unison, said: “It is dreadful that an experienced employee, who was hired to fight equality for the council, has been bullied out of work because she blew the whistle on her employer.”

Scanlon said: “I have lost six years of my life because I dared to challenge the unlawful actions of the chief executive. The council abused its power, ruined my reputation, and sabotaged my attempts to find another job.

“I hope that I can now move on and start to pick up the pieces of my life.”

The council is taking legal advice over the total award of £442,466.38 for loss of earnings (£101,021.99), future loss of earnings (£155,510.40) and other costs and damages.

A Redcar and Cleveland Council spokesman said: “These events took place over five years ago. Since then, the council has had changes in senior management and reviewed its policies and procedures.

“The council has been surprised at the level of compensation for loss of earnings and believes this could set a precedent for payouts across local government.

“For this reason, we are taking legal advice about this issue but also suggest other local authorities consider the lessons from this.”

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