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Ex-HBOS mortgage adviser awarded over £22,000 in unfair dismissal case

  • 25/10/2022
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Ex-HBOS mortgage adviser awarded over £22,000 in unfair dismissal case
Former HBOS mortgage and protection adviser Victoria Lindsay has won her constructive unfair dismissal case against the firm, and has been awarded over £22,000.

Victoria Lindsay, who worked at HBOS in Scotland for over 20 years, has won her case for constructive unfair dismissal against the bank.

She was awarded £22,304.72, which was partially based on her age and length of service, income she would have received over the period and expenses incurred setting up her own mortgage advice firm.

Lindsay suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after a family bereavement, which consequently led to anxiety and panic attacks. She was signed off with stress for several weeks at a time but was still contacted by her boss.

The ruling found that there had been several instances where Lindsay’s line manager, named as Ms Jallow, had “breached the duty of mutual trust and confidence” leading Lindsay to resign in response.

She has since set up a self-employed business as a mortgage protection adviser.


Boss questioning medical treatment was ‘unreasonable’

The report said that Ms Jallow had “insisted without any justification” that the claimant ask her medical practitioners about her medical treatment, and this had caused additional anxiety and concern about being managed out.

It said: “It was unreasonable of Ms Jallow to question the claimant’s medical treatment. She had no proper cause for doing so and in so doing caused serious damage to the duty of mutual trust and confidence.

“The claimant was off work because of anxiety and was further anxious about how long her employer would tolerate her absence. Objectively, Ms Jallow’s conduct seriously damaged the relationship of mutual trust and confidence with the claimant.”

It continued that this heightened Lindsay’s anxiety about contact and her work situation and had informed Ms Jallow that the “contact was causing her increasing anxiety”.

It added that there was a call that Ms Jallow had made to Lindsay that was a “clear breach of mutual trust and confidence”.


Calls about social media posts ‘breach of trust’

While still suffering with severe anxiety and off work, Lindsay took holiday with her family in Blackpool.

Ms Jallow then called Lindsay on a withheld number to tell her to be “mindful” of posting pictures on social media of cakes that she had made as it could give the wrong impression to her colleagues as she was signed off with stress.

This was despite two days’ earlier being told that Lindsay was too anxious to speak to her and an arrangement being in place that there would be no contact with the claimant for at least a month, and if contact was urgent a text would be sent beforehand.

This caused Lindsay to have a half-hour panic attack in front of her two children and heightened her anxiety even further about returning to work.

The report said that cake-making was a hobby that the bank was aware of and was therapeutic for Lindsay’s anxiety, and that the social media post said that she not posted for six months and the pictures were of cakes she’d made over that period.


Claimant entitled to resign

It added: “There was nothing blameworthy about her conduct. While it may well be that staff at the branch at which the claimant worked made comment about this [hobby] while the claimant was off sick, the tribunal found that there was no proper reason given for raising this with the claimant at the time the respondent raised it or indeed at all.”

It added that it was a non-urgent matter that the claimant could “perceive as being critical of her conduct”.

The tribunal concluded: “In all of the circumstances, the tribunal concluded that the respondent had breached the duty of mutual trust and confidence with the claimant, that the claimant resigned in response, that she was entitled to do so and did not delay unduly in so doing.”

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