A former Co-op pharmacist has lost her case for unfair constructive dismissal after she was accused of bullying co-workers.
Ibolya Martin, 50, of Lairg in the Scottish Highlands, claims she was forced to resign last year after the company suspended her following a joint complaint from junior pharmacy staff members Heather MacLeay and Lindsey MacNeil.
Ms MacLeay told the employment tribunal that by the time of the complaint “we had just come to the end of our tether”. “We felt that things were getting worse and worse for us,” she added. “My family said I couldn’t go on like this, not sleeping and being a nervous wreck.”
Ms Martin denies any misconduct, however. She alleges the Co-op used the bullying allegations as an excuse to remove her from her post, as she had repeatedly raised concerns about the building’s disabled access and fire safety procedures.
She said she felt “sick and humiliated” after being suspended on December 10 last year . “I think they had no right to force me out,” she said. “I believe that, as I was blowing the whistle on health and safety and fire safety, I was victimised by the company.”
Judith McCormack, representing Co-op, denied this in her closing statement, and said that the company did not breach its contract with Ms Martin “in any way, shape or form”.
She said: “Two allegations were made against the complainer, which were both serious: one was bullying and one was misuse of company property. There was no breach, so whatever caused the complainer to resign may have been a reaction on her part, but ultimately we did not breach the contract.”
The employment tribunal agreed and said the Co-op did not act improperly by suspending Ms Martin. “It’s clear that the claimant’s relationship with the two other workers had deteriorated considerably and in our view it is wholly appropriate to suspend someone in these circumstances.”
After the hearing, Ms Martin said she would appeal the decision. “I think it was a miscarriage of justice and the whole procedure was unfair,” she said. “I did my best for my patients and I am very disappointed.”
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