February 05, 2012

University worker claims that she was 'bullied and harassed' into retirement

A university computer assistant who was diagnosed with epilepsy claimed she was “bullied and harassed” by her line manager and pressured into applying for early retirement.

Jennifer Tucker, 61, appeared at a Bury St Edmunds employment tribunal yesterday where she is claiming she suffered age and disability discrimination by her employer St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Her part-time job was helping deal with computer problems for students and faculty members.

Ms Tucker, of John Clark Court, Cambridge, said she had started taking medication for her epilepsy in January 2010, when she received an appraisal form from her superior Stephanie Clarke. It contained seemingly damning remarks about her work, which had never been raised before.

She said: “I felt frightened, vulnerable and shocked. I had no memory of many things Stephanie was referring to and rather than raise these as untruths, I accepted.”

Ms Tucker, who had a brain operation in 2002 to clip an aneurysm, said in her statement to the tribunal that she took her first degree aged 46 and a post graduate diploma at 40.

She said a series of development meetings which followed her appraisal were oppressive and more like a trial.

She said: “I was being routinely criticised and demeaned, and my views and evidence ignored.

“I believe they used my condition knowingly to intimidate me in the hope that I would leave a job I could and did do well.”

Stephanie Clarke said in a statement to the tribunal that she had difficulty managing Ms Tucker, who was unwilling to accept that there was any shortfall in her performance. She said she had not known of Ms Tucker’s epilepsy until February 2010, although Ms Tucker claimed she told her much earlier.

She said: “The claimant can be rude to me and to other members of the college.”

Jane Stevens, the Master’s secretary, said she was astounded at her line manager’s comments about Ms Tucker. She said: “She was being bullied in the workplace but management refused to believe it or preferred not to accept her well documented complaints.”

The hearing continues.

From: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk

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