Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Charity Worker Sues Employer; Tribunal Told of 'Bullying and Hostility'

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Charity Worker Sues Employer; Tribunal Told of 'Bullying and Hostility'

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE BLACKBURN

A STOCKTON woman is suing national charity Cats Protection, claiming she was bullied and discriminated against because of a disability - allegations the charity denies.

Trish Thompson, who was Cats' head of operations North and Midlands for five months, suffers from Myasthenia Gravis, an auto-immune disease characterised by severe, fluctuating muscle weakness.

She told an employment tribunal, after starting work for the UK's leading feline welfare charity in October 2008 it became "increasingly apparent" to her some people in high positions of management "had inappropriate, very unsympathetic, and even hostile views in relation to disabled people".

She alleged her line manager, Mark Rawden, "was a perfect example of this" saying: "He frequently used the word 'deadwood' to refer to disabled staff."

The 55-year-old gran told the Thornaby hearing Mr Rawden "waged a campaign of bullying and hostility towards me".

Although primarily working from her Hartburn home, her pounds 45,000 a year role required her to travel to offices around the country.

She claimed the charity refused to let her use her own motability car instead of her company car, which caused her "severe back and neck pain".

Mrs Thompson claimed the charity -which she said has an annual income of pounds 36m -"refused to make reasonable adjustments" for her disability in also failing to provide her with a lightweight laptop, suitable mobile

Her stress at being treated "deplorably" finally led to a breakdown in her health, the hearing was told.

Returning from a meeting in London in January 2009 she saw a doctor as an emergency patient to be told "he suspected I had a heart attack". After an ECG she was advised she was suffering from high blood pressure due to stress.

She told her employer she had been prescribed "immediate and complete rest", but claims the charity continued to send her work. …

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