One of England’s biggest Hospital Trusts, The Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, has been ordered to pay £933,115 in compensation to a former manager after an Employment Tribunal concluded that he had been subjected to race discrimination and unfairly dismissed.
Elliot Browne was awarded compensation after an Employment Tribunal ruled that he had faced “persistent discrimination” and “an intimidating environment” in the period leading up to his suspension and subsequent dismissal.
Issues began when the division managed by Mr Browne went into deficit and he was required to produce a plan to tackle the overspend. Once this plan had been produced, the Trust’s Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive began what Elliot Browne described as a campaign of bullying and harassment. Mr Browne raised a grievance, however, the Trust failed to take it seriously or investigate it sufficiently and Mr Browne was subsequently suspended and dismissed.
The Tribunal awarded Mr Browne, aged 55, a total of £933,115 for unfair dismissal and aggravated damages and loss of earnings and pension. Mr Browne’s award was “grossed – up” to ensure that he didn’t miss out because of the tax that has to be paid on the award, however, the Tribunal refused to increase the compensation because there was the potential for Mr Browne to have been promoted in the near future. The Tribunal found it would have been “far too speculative” to increase his award in this way.
Unite, Mr Browne’s Union, have called for an independent enquiry into the Trust’s disciplinary policies after discovering that, although 2% of his workforce are described as black, they formed 25% of those dismissed for wrongdoing.
Unite’s Head of Health, Rachel Maskell said:
“NHS employers need to establish comprehensive and effective training programme and Human Resources functions so that there will be no repetition of this case”
Regional Officer, Keith Hudson, added:
“The expenditure of almost a million pounds of tax payer’s money could have been avoided, if this employer had just followed its own policies and procedures from the outset, instead of believing that NHS funds are there to defend the indefensible, rather than deliver patient care.”
Whilst it is clear that the amount awarded to Mr Browne is unusually high, it is a stark warning to employers who would do well to heed the advice of the Unite Union in ensuring they follow their own policies and procedures for grievance and disciplinary issues from the outset.