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College Pays 15,000 Disability Discrimination Compensation and Apologises to Employee

28 September 2004

Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln has agreed to pay 15,000 compensation and to issue an apology to a disabled member of staff just hours before a disability discrimination case was due to be heard by Nottingham Employment Tribunal.

Mrs Sharifa Farley, aged 49, who has the condition of ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) had been part-time Disability Co-ordinator at the College from 2000. She was sacked in March 2003.

The College denied discrimination but agreed to compensate Mrs Farley and to give her an apology signed by them and Eileen Baker OBE, the former Principal. The College also provided Mrs Farley with a positive reference.

Mrs Farley commented: "I had an excellent working relationship with my original line manager and other senior members of staff and enjoyed my work.

"But when the College Principal, Mrs Eileen Baker OBE, took over my line management things changed dramatically. She failed to adjust my working hours to accommodate my disability and I feel I was consistently bullied and intimidated by her for a lengthy period until I had to take extended sick leave.

"I was brought in to improve disability access and awareness but, ironically, they even failed to deal with me in a proper manner. I had tried to invoke the College's own Grievance procedure against Mrs Baker, but unfortunately my grievance was referred back to Mrs Baker to deal with, by the Governing Body. I therefore brought a claim to the employment tribunal that I had been unlawfully discriminated against.

"I brought my case on principle because I felt bullies should not be allowed to get away with it and I feel, I have now proved a point."

Her lawyer, Paul Daniels, leading disability discrimination lawyer at national law firm Russell Jones & Walker, commented: "This is one of the more serious cases claiming disability discrimination I have seen and it highlights the inflexibility and prejudice in how some employers can deal with disabled people.

"Mrs Farley's employment was terminated after the College claimed the funding for its disability project had been withdrawn, but we obtained confidential papers which proved that the College itself had requested the funding be withdrawn and for the disability project to close.

"This case was about trying to show that inflexibility and bullying is unacceptable. We are pleased that the College and Mrs Baker agreed to provide an apology.

"In a further twist to events, since the compensation and apology were agreed, Mrs Baker has refused to sign the apology and Mrs Farley is pursuing the breach of the Agreement further in the employment tribunal."

- Ends -


Russell Jones & Walker press release

Russell Jones & Walker Solicitors employs more than 450 staff (over 200 lawyers) and is renowned as the leading national firm of solicitors in protecting the rights and legal interests of individuals and those who represent them.

Russell Jones & Walker has a network of regional offices and includes those in the following centres: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Wakefield, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

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