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Former NHS Worker Wins Race Discrimination Claim

13 April 2012

A former divisional director at Central Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded compensation of almost £1 million after the Employment Tribunal (ET) upheld his claims of race discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Elliot Browne, now 55, told the ET that he began experiencing problems after he produced a plan to tackle the budget deficit in his division, which included radiology, pathology and anaesthetics. In his opinion, he was treated differently from white colleagues who ran other departments with similar financial problems and was subjected to a campaign of bullying and harassment by the deputy chief executive of the Trust, Gill Heaton.

When Mr Browne raised a grievance, the Trust failed to take his complaints seriously or carry out a proper investigation. Instead, he was suspended and disciplinary action was commenced to remove him from his post. The way he was treated caused him to suffer from severe depression and effectively ended his 34-year career with the NHS.

The Trust asserted that discrimination was not a factor in Mr Browne’s case, but the ET found that he had suffered persistent discrimination from February or March 2007 until he was finally dismissed in 2008. In its view, Ms Heaton had ‘created an intimidating environment’ for him and had paid little regard to the effect her comments were having on him at a time when he was clearly unwell and had told her so.

Mr Browne was awarded damages of £933,115, which included loss of earnings and pension entitlement. The award was grossed up to allow for the fact that it is subject to tax.

Rachael Maskell, head of health for Unite, Mr Browne’s trade union, said, “NHS employers need to establish comprehensive and effective training programmes and human resources functions so that there will be no repetition of this case. Dignity at work needs to be a reality.”

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