MoJA former employee of the Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust has won her legal claim against the organisation after she claimed that she had been called a “whore” and unfair dismissed.

An Employment Tribunal ruled that Helen Marks, formerly Human Resources Director at Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust, had been sexually harassed by the chairman of the Trust and that she had then been unfairly dismissed by the organisation.

Mrs Marks gave evidence to the Employment Tribunal that the chairman of the Trust, Alan Baines, started a friendship in 2010 with Mrs Marks and the two started going on regular lunch dates, at which they would not only discuss their professional work but also their personal lives. In 2014 Mr Baines made sexual advances to Mrs Marks but Mrs Marks refused.

Mrs Marks also stated in her evidence that upon her refusal to have sexual relations with Mr Baines he sent her a number of derogatory text messages (including one text message in which he called her a “whore”) and started to encourage other staff members to complain about her so that he could start disciplinary proceedings. Mrs Marks was later suspended from work and subsequently dismissed on allegations of bullying.

The Tribunal also heard that Mr Baines had been protected by chief executive Professor Steve Trenchard in that Mr Baines had been allowed to leave Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust with his “good name” intact.

Following her dismissal Mrs Marks made a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, gender-related harassment and victimisation.

The Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust denied all of the allegations and the matter went to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year.

The Employment Tribunal ruled in Mrs Marks’ favour in her claims against the Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust, holding that Mr Baines had unfairly dismissed her and that he had also subject her to unlawful sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Compensation in the case will be determined at a future hearing.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Marks stated: “I feel totally vindicated in pursuing the action. I hope that the Trust will learn from its mistakes and make appropriate changes to its policies and procedures so that, in future, its staff are not subjected to similar behaviour.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers should ensure that they train staff in equality policies and that all staff have access to a copy of the employee handbook and/or diversity documentation. A failure to do so can potentially render an employer liable for discrimination and harassment.”

About Redmans Employment Team

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees

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