Tales from the tribunals

Animal lovers will not be pleased to learn of pay-outs to disgruntled employees by pet charities. This includes the RSPCA: one of its inspectors was awarded constructive dismissal damages after a saga that included attempting suicide with medication designed to put down animals.

Dimity Crowley alleged she had suffered various forms of maltreatment during her employment, including sexual harassment and bullying (over 18 months in 2003-04) and a gross invasion of privacy while working for the charity in the South East.

According to her lawyer, Will Clayton of Hill Dickinson, her case against the RSPCA was based on two claims: that the unreasonable behaviour of the RSPCA amounted to a serious breach of contract and that Crowley also suffered a fundamental variation of contract by the RSPCA that made continued employment impossible for her as it would have involved a gross invasion of her privacy.

The tribunal dismissed the former but found the second claim was proven and that Crowley had suffered constructive and unfair dismissal. Both parties agreed a sum of £30,000 in compensation.

The case hinged on the RSPCA’s wish – on the advice of an occupational health adviser – that Crowley’s contract be altered so that her GP could report directly to the charity on any signs of psychological illness on Crowley’s part. This followed a 2004 suicide attempt by Crowley when she took barbiturates issued to her by the RSPCA for putting down animals.

Clayton argued the RSPCA’s request to change her contract was a “fundamental variation of her employment contract” and therefore “a gross invasion of privacy”. Since the case ended, Crowley has packed up and moved to Australia.

Another animal charity, the PDSA, has settled a dismissal dispute with former employee Catherine Goldie, a vet, before it reached tribunal in Glasgow. Reports, disputed by the PDSA, claimed she’d been paid almost a six-figure sum. The PDSA told Employers’ Law, the figure published was inaccurate but it will not say what it paid. Goldie was dismissed for alleged misconduct.

Comments are closed.