Glasgow librarian loses sex bias case

March 5, 1999

An industrial tribunal has condemned Glasgow University's grievance procedures as "unfair by any standard of natural justice".

Librarian Metta MacLeod brought a sex discrimination case against the university after a three-stage grievance procedure rejected her complaints that she was bullied by Stephen Woodruff, head of the language centre.

The tribunal judgment says Ms MacLeod was "hurt, embarrassed and distressed" by Mr Woodruff's behaviour, which included raising his fist, shouting at her and mouthing obscenities. Mr Woodruff denied these incidents, but the judgment says his evidence was untruthful.

But the tribunal has thrown out Ms MacLeod's case, deciding by a two-one majority that there is no evidence that she was victimised because of her sex. "Bullying or oppression or harassment (per se) of employees in the workplace is not unlawful. The 1975 Equal Opportunities) Act renders such behaviour unlawful, but only if it is sexually discriminatory," the judgment says.

One tribunal member believed Ms MacLeod had been a victim of sex discrimination both in the grievance procedure and being redeployed from the language centre to the main library.

But the majority found the year-long grievance procedure was flawed because of "carelessness, incompetence and lack of professionalism". The document governing grievances was "vague", but the stage two and three hearings appeared concerned only with whether there had been procedural flaws in the initial hearing, which blamed Ms MacLeod for undermining morale at the language resource unit.

The tribunal found that Ms MacLeod made no secret of her dislike and resentment of Mr Woodruff, had difficulty in working in a team and was oversensitive. Other colleagues alleged she was irrational, belligerent and offensive. A university spokesman said: "We have noted the tribunal finding, after an exhaustive inquiry, is in our favour, and the observations made are being followed up."

Ms MacLeod is now pursuing a further complaint against the university.

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