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East Lancashire NHS worker in unfair sacking victory
9:08am Friday 20th December 2013 in News
A HOSPITAL technician who took sick leave while dealing with the breakdown of her marriage to a 'violent alcoholic' was sacked just a fortnight after her return to work.
An employment tribunal was told that Karen Marsha, a senior pharmacy technician at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, had been told she could undertake a 'phased' return to her duties.
But after begin given that assurance by her boss, Janine Hey, Mrs Marsha was summoned to a meeting 14 days later and was dismissed by Neil Fletcher, clinical director of pharmacy.
And it was Ms Hey who presented the case for her colleague's dismissal at a hearing on July 30 last year.
An appeal was lodged, chaired by one of the trust's non-executive directors George Boyer, sitting with the operations director Val Bertenshaw and human resources director Ian Brandwood.
But the dismissal decision was confirmed, prompting Mrs Marsha, from Todmorden, to launch an unfair dismissal claim.
Employment judge John Hewitt ruled in favour of the pharmacy technician, who had worked for the trust for 22 years, after a series of hearings.
She is now seeking compensation awards from the trust, including loss of earnings totalling more than £32,000.
An earlier hearing was told that Mrs Marsha suffered domestic problems from 2008 onwards and this culminated in her husband assaulting her in front of their children in 2010.
She was off work with stress for 40 days in 2010.
And after another few short absences, after her return to work, she was off with anxiety and depression for 127 days in 2012.
The judge said in his ruling that the periods of absence were not disputed by Mrs Marsha's representatives.
But he insisted that the trust's 'fatal flaw' was the manner in which they had dealt with her dimissal.
Judge Hewitt said it was 'incongrous' that Ms Hey had both informed Mrs Marsha she could enjoy a phased return to work and then later present the case for her sacking at a hearing just weeks later.
Compensation has still to be decided.
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