Worker on sick leave ac­cused boss of ‘spy­ing’ on her at home Woman wins un­fair dis­missal case after com­pany checked up on her

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Staff Re­porter

AWORKER who took sick leave while her fa­ther fought ter­mi­nal cancer, con­tacted the po­lice after ac­cus­ing bosses of snoop­ing on her and scour­ing her Face­book site.

Credit con­troller Hi­lary Long had com­plained that a direc­tor kept watch out­side her home and scru­ti­nised her so­cial me­dia mes­sages.

Now she has been awarded £4,400 by a Birm­ing­ham Em­ploy­ment Tri­bunal, which ruled she was un­fairly dis­missed by Grav­ity Credit Con­trol.

Fol­low­ing the case, the 57-year-old said: “In the end, it got so bad I couldn’t put the rub­bish out be­cause I was so wor­ried about be­ing watched. We had to move. This al­most killed me, but I had to see it through. My own brother said ‘stop’, but I couldn’t. I can’t stand bul­lies.”

Mother-of-four Hi­lary was on sick leave from the Worces­ter firm, suf­fer­ing de­pres­sion and stress, when the com­pany launched its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Her fa­ther Ge­orge was se­ri­ously ill at the time and has since died.

Po­lice took no ac­tion over her ac­cu­sa­tion of ha­rass­ment but the tri­bunal up­held Ms Long’s un­fair dis­missal claim after hear­ing al­le­ga­tions that she had been bom­barded with text mes­sages from the firm, where she had worked for two and a half years.

Grav­ity Credit Con­trol bosses deny ac­cu­sa­tions of car­ry­ing out sur­veil­lance at Ms Long’s Worces­ter home, but ad­mit vis­it­ing the prop­erty, study­ing her Face­book page and com­pil­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port.

The tri­bunal heard that other work­ers at the small com­pany, which em­ploys six peo­ple, had com­plained Ms Long had been “par­ty­ing” and “liv­ing it up” while on three months leave. They had backed their claims by show­ing a so­cial me­dia post to direc­tor Caren Craw­ford, spark­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ms Craw­ford ac­cepted vis­it­ing the sick worker’s home three times in September 2016. In her re­port, tri­bunal judge Jane Hind­march said: “On each oc­ca­sion she recorded the claimant’s car was not on her drive, pre­sum­ably be­cause the claimant was away at­tend­ing to her fa­ther.”

In Novem­ber the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port was hand-de­liv­ered to Ms Long’s home, prompt­ing her to call Worces­ter Po­lice.

Judge Hind­marsh said: “That in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port for the first time alerted the claimant to the fact the re­spon­dent (Ms Craw­ford) had been car­ry­ing out what she viewed as sur­veil­lance upon her, namely, Ms Craw­ford sit­ting out­side her home ad­dress in her car and the re­spon­dent check­ing the claimant’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts.”

The com­plaint re­ceived from of­fi­cers.

An email to Ms Craw­ford from the force stated: “I can con­firm the mat­ter of ha­rass­ment against your­self has been in­ves­ti­gated and taken no fur­ther. It was deemed the ac­tions you took were rea­son­able steps in view of your own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hi­lary’s con­duct whilst be­ing em­ployed by your­self.” The firm main­tained that Ms Long’s work had de­clined and she had failed to keep them in the loop about her sick­ness leave.

A dis­ci­plinary and griev­ance hear­ing took place on De­cem­ber 7, in Ms Long’s ab­sence after she said she was too ill to at­tend. The al­le­ga­tions were as fol­lows: “You failed to ini­tially ad­vise (of the) na­ture of ill­ness and con­tin­u­ally, through­out your ill­ness, failed to reg­u­larly in­form your man­ager of your progress with­out be­ing prompted to do so.

“No­ti­fi­ca­tion was also late on the ma­jor­ity of oc­ca­sions. It is deemed that your so­cial me­dia post and com­ments neg­a­tively af­fect the com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion and that of a direc­tor.

“Your so­cial me­dia post and on­line ac­tiv­ity does not in­di­cate that, on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties, you were not fit enough to at­tend a meet­ing with the com­pany.”

Ms Long was dis­missed on the grounds of mis­con­duct and gross mis­con­duct.

After the case, Ms Craw­ford stren­u­ously de­nied “sur­veil­lance” of Ms Long had taken place. “The po­lice took no ac­tion,” she said. “They said what we did was rea­son­able. The out­come of the judg­ment did not re­flect re­al­ity.” short shrift

> Credit con­troller Hi­lary Long, right, ac­cused a com­pany direc­tor of keep­ing watch out­side her home

> Caron Crawford, of Grav­ity Credit Con­trol

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.