Wednesday, May 16, 2007
LESBIAN NURSES WIN BIG IN UK
Two highly-respected nurses who transformed the fortunes of a Westcountry care home have won record compensation after a tribunal ruled they were sacked because of their sexuality. Margaret Durman and Penny Smith, partners for more than three years, were dismissed by Barchester Healthcare in September 2005 despite their exemplary work at Kernow House in Launceston, North Cornwall.
They were dismissed in September 2005 over anonymous allegations that they had allowed sexual and physical abuse of the residents.
The scathing verdict of an employment tribunal was that their sackings were "patently unfair" and based on spurious allegations.
They won their tribunal in June 2006 but Barchester Healthcare unsuccessfully appealed, which delayed the ruling becoming public knowledge.
Following their dismissals, both women were put on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, which meant they could no longer work as nurses.
Smith, a mother-of-one, said: "I've developed various physical disorders - we have seen counsellors and we are going to be having some more treatment. We are definitely not the same people."
Durman said: "It has been an extremely traumatic event for us and for our families. What has caused us the biggest distress is the damage Barchester have caused to our reputations."
"This has ruined our lives - both our professional lives and our private lives," Durman told the Plymouth Herald.
"Because of the ongoing hearings and appeals we have not been able to work at all.
"We have had no apology from Barchester Healthcare."
Sue Matthews, regional officer for the Royal College of Nursing, the UK nursing organization, which represented the couple, said, "I'm delighted for Margaret and Penny that they have the recognition that they were completely inappropriately treated by Barchester, although the personal damage they have suffered won't be compensated by any amount."
The following is from Gay.com.
Wrongly dismissed lesbian nurses win payout
Hassan Mirza, GAY.COM
A pair of lesbian nurses from Cornwall have been awarded with awarded at least £350,000 in compensation after a court ruled they were wrongly dismissed for the sexuality.
Partners Margaret Durman, 55, and Penny Smith, 41, of Kelly Bray were employees as Kernow House, a care home in Launceston. They were dismissed in September 2005 over anonymous allegations that they had allowed sexual and physical abuse of the residents. On May 23, 2005 the pair were suspended while Barchester began an investigation.
But after reviewing their case and the findings of Barchester's bogus investigation, an employment tribunal called their dismissal "patently unfair". Tribunal chairman Paul Housego said that in the thirty years of his career, he had never seen a case so unfair.
"It is hard to see how any dismissal conducted by an employer of such size, and with a dedicated human resources department, could be so very bad unless sexual orientation discrimination was the root cause of it,” Housego said.
"We are not satisfied that a heterosexual couple would have been treated the same."
The tribunal accused Barchester of hastily and irresponsibly responding to the initial complaints.
Durman, a registered nurse for 35 years, said: "It has been extremely traumatic for us and our families. What has caused the biggest distress is the damage Barchester has caused to our reputations."
"I felt so ashamed, despite knowing we were innocent,”Durman's partner Smith admitted. "We used to shop in Launceston but we no longer go there because we would rather not see people that we know. I felt humiliated at having to explain to people what had happened."
The names of the couple had even been referred to Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, associated with child and adult abuse. Durman claims that their names will always be on that list.
"This was never about taking Barchester Healthcare to court for money - it was about taking them to court for justice,” Durman continued. “ It was about proving to Barchester that they can't just do what they like to people."
Sue Matthews, regional officer for the Royal College of Nursing, who represented the nurses, said: "Barchester had a total disregard not only for employment law and good practice, but also the health and welfare of their staff who they assumed were guilty from the outset."
Barchester Healthcare denied that the company is homophobic and said the company “"prides itself on the treatment of its staff".
A spokesman said, “"We are an equal opportunities employer and we do not discriminate on any grounds."