Tribunal trauma

October 28, 2005

You report that employers have seized on the figures that only one in 20 tribunal cases against universities ends in victory for the complainant "as proof that staff are treated much more fairly than in the wider world" ("Millions wasted on tribunals", October 14). Such comments are, in my experience, offensively inaccurate.

A colleague and I tried to blow the whistle on the dealings of a department manager. We were forced out of the department immediately after the university closed ranks and no assistance or support was offered to us by personnel, occupational health or internal audit. The university subjected us to a 13-month grievance procedure, and did everything to support the manager concerned and to exhaust us to a point where we would give up.

After an external audit, the manager was moved sideways and still receives a salary and the protection of the university.

Complainants do not necessarily file for a tribunal while internal procedures are ongoing to try to force concessions, as your report alleges, they do so because universities refuse to concede that such procedures have ever been concluded to delay progress to tribunal.

At the tribunal pre-hearing, my claim for constructive dismissal was struck out on a technicality. My colleague's case is going to full tribunal.

The experience has been a nightmare. We have been bullied, coerced, lied to, patronised and intimidated. The reason so few claims succeed at tribunal is not because employees are treated fairly, but because of the overwhelming odds stacked against them of taking public bodies who have expensive legal counsel to court.

Universities will do anything possible to stop the truth about management practices coming to light, and prefer to spend their money on doing this than on improving these practices and eradicating the problems.

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