An Essex hospital worker was shouted at by an off-duty midwife about a baby scan, which left her “embarrassed, shocked and intimidated”. The member of staff at the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust has now won an employment tribunal which found the trust’s investigation to be “woefully inadequate”.
Sonographer Mrs Sawyers – a healthcare professional who specializes in the use of ultrasonic imaging devices – won an age harassment employment tribunal over a claim her grievance was managed poorly. It was ruled that “obstacles” were thrown in her way when she tried to complain about the incident.
The tribunal, held at the East London Hearing Centre in August last year, heard Mrs Sawyers had been shouted at during an incident in March 2019. Senior midwife Beverly Lynn was attending for a scan with her daughter-in-law.
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She had called to say she would be late and asked another midwife to carry out the appointment but arrived to find the scan already underway. The following exchange, which was branded “direct and rude” by the tribunal, saw the midwife shout “Can you not read?” and “I’m a midwife”.
In his findings, Employment Judge Russell said: “There was no physical assault but this was a deeply unpleasant and disturbing situation for the Claimant [Mrs Sawyers], being subjected to an angry tirade for simply doing her job.” The judge said Mrs Sawyers had considered calling security but decided against it, and that she was “startled into silence”.
The tirade left her “embarrassed, shocked and intimidated after being shouted at by an experienced healthcare professional when she had done nothing wrong.” Mrs Sawyers started an internal complaint the same day but was not advised she could make a formal grievance.
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An investigator was appointed and both Ms Lynn and another sonographer were interviewed. However, the tribunal found the investigation was “woefully inadequate and her decision was biased”. The judge said the investigator had failed “even to interview the claimant” and “recorded materially inaccurate reasons for closing the investigation”.
Mrs Sawyers made a formal grievance in June 2019 and another meeting was held, but the tribunal found it was “dismissive of the claimant’s concerns”. The procedure was later closed but was not resolved at the time.
Judge Russell continued in his report: “There was an attitude the claimant was overreacting and should just accept the apology pressed upon her. Procedural obstacles were being put in the way of the complaint which, we infer, were designed to press the claimant to accept informal resolution and the gravity of the complaint and the effect of what had happened were not being taken seriously.” Ms Sawyers’ other claims over age and race discrimination and victimisation were dismissed.
The East Suffolk and North Essex Trust have been contacted for comment.