Sports manager Fiona Roberts accused Staffordshire University staff of a string of wrongdoings costing thousands of pounds.
She claimed that:
- Staff pocketed money from deleted sports bookings
- Staff took equipment to moonlight as fitness coaches
- 10p coins were going missing from lockers
- There were discrepancies with vending machine cash
- University equipment was sold on Facebook
The allegations were made as Ms Roberts accused the university of unfair treatment which caused her to resign, prompting a legal claim for constructive unfair dismissal. She also claimed damages for breach of contract.
Ms Roberts, 47, joined the university in 2000 and was sports manager both for the university’s campus at Stafford and at the Sir Stanley Matthews university sports campus at Stoke-on-Trent. In a witness statement she said: “It came to my notice that sports equipment belonging to the university was missing and I suspected two staff members whom I believed were using the equipment to provide fitness coaching for their own private gain.
“I made the management aware of the situation.”
The tribunal was told in Ms Roberts’ statement that the bookings system was allegedly abused by staff. Bookings were deleted and the money pocketed by staff who were later suspended, she claimed.
But the university opposed her legal claims, and accused her of failing to act when “wrongdoing” issues were brought to her attention.
“She should have known something was amiss when the sports centre income for August and September in 2013 was £28,000 down against the budget,” university bosses said.
Ms Roberts denied that she had not responded.
“There was a knee jerk reaction to suspend me without considering my long service and the fact that I brought wrongdoings to the attention of the management,” she said.
And last week tribunal judge Mr David Dimbylow agreed, ruling that her claims for constructive unfair dismissal and damages were both well-founded and successful.
”I concluded that the claimant had undertaken no action which was culpable or blameworthy,” he said.
“She did not cause, or contribute to, her losing her job and it would not be just or equitable to reduce any award. We go on to state, contrary to the respondent’s assertions, that there was no repudiatory conduct on part of the claimant.”
Mr Dimbylow added that Ms Roberts’ suspension related to a need for a full and formal investigation into the possible misuse of the booking system and serious allegations of potential fraud and breach of professional responsibility.
“As we understand it, two employees who were dismissed were involved in the competing gym business and the misuse of cash,” said Mr Dimyblow.
A tribunal hearing to announce the amount of the award to be granted, did not take place. A tribunal spokesman said later: “It appears a settlement may have been reached in private prior to the hearing.”