FLABBERGASTED: Iona Anderson
A WOMAN who was unfairly dismissed from her job as manager of a Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society has been left with a £10,000 bill for legal costs.
Iona Anderson, from Coventry, won her case for unfair dismissal from the Leamington Spa branch after a five-day employment tribunal hearing in June.
She admitted leaving the safe unlocked as she left early to attend a doctor’s appointment in December 2010, with inexperienced staff left in charge.
Miss Anderson, a former Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Coventry North West in the 2005 General Election, was summarily dismissed from her £24,400-a-year job seven months later on the grounds of gross misconduct.
At a remedy hearing in Birmingham on November 6 she was awarded a total of £18,000 compensation for loss of earnings after explaining she had not been able to find work despite applying for 185 jobs since her dismissal in July 2011.
Jonathan Gidney, counsel for Cheltenham & Gloucester told Birmingham tribunal judge Christopher Tickle that his client’s legal costs were £37,000, but they were prepared to accept £10,000 from Miss Anderson.
Miss Anderson, who represented herself at both her employment tribunal and remedy hearing said afterwards: “I am flabbergasted at this outcome and still feel I am being penalised. I prepared my case thoroughly without a barrister and this is how it turns out. This has been such a stressful time for me and I fear this outcome will deter others from standing up and representing themselves.”
She told the hearing that the safe was out of public view and it had been a regular practice to leave the safe unlocked. She claimed a white male had carried out the same act as her, but was not dismissed and was not even given a warning.
She said at the time she was suffering stress due to poor staffing levels at the branch and had explained this to bosses only a week before the incident.
At her tribunal in June Miss Anderson submitted claims for discrimination and victimisation which she lost but has applied for an appeal.
She also claimed that out of 164 Cheltenham & Gloucester branches there were two black branch managers, adding that she believed a high proportion of ethnic minority disciplinary cases were set at dismissal stage.
Mr Gidney, for C&G, told the tribunal that Miss Anderson had been given the option of settling the case out of court in April after the company offered her £25,000 to compensate her for loss of earnings.
But Miss Anderson, who is a devout Pentecostal Christian, said after the hearing: “I don’t regret rejecting their offer to drop the case in return for £25,000 even though now I am financially worse off. It was a matter of principle.”