The Daily Mail tells us that a senior civil servant who was sacked by the Government after making an expense claim for a meditation course is suing her former employers in the Employment for unfair dismissal, discrimination and personal injury.
Dr Angelika Hibbert commenced employment in 2007 with the Home Office in London as a program director in the crime and policing group’s research and analysis unit. She said that as a result of the pressure of the workload that she was put under she suffered workplace stress and depression. She was diagnosed as suffering from these illnesses and her doctor told her that she would need to take medication to alleviate the symptoms for a considerable period of time. As a result she turned to alternative therapies and decided that she would take a relaxation and meditation therapy course, at a cost of £390. She subsequently put in an expenses claim for the relaxation and therapy meditation course and this was apparently accepted by the automated software that the Home Office use to process such claims. However, her line managers subsequently discovered that she had submitted the expense claim and threatened to dismiss her for gross misconduct as a result. This, Dr Hibbert stated, caused her further distress and she was forced to sign off work sick. She was dismissed in 2010 after being off sick for more than four months. Following this Dr Hibbert submitted a claim for unfair dismissal (among other claims) to the Employment Tribunal and is seeking compensation of more than £1 million for injury to her feelings, psychological injuries and unfair dismissal.
The Home Office, defending the claim at the Employment Tribunal, stated that they had done as much as they could to accommodate Dr Hibbert but that the expenses claim amounted to insubordination. They deny that Dr Hibbert was unfairly dismissed.
If you think that you have been discriminated against at work or believe that you may be unfairly dismissed then you should do the following to protect your position:
- Submit a formal grievance (using this grievance letter template, if you wish to)
- Appeal any disciplinary you receive (using this disciplinary appeal letter, if you wish to)
- Get employment law advice (from a firm of employment law specialists or from your Trade Union