Crown Office accused of victimising worker over sexual harassment claims

A former Crown Office employee has launched legal action claiming she was sacked because she raised sexual harassment allegations against another member of staff.

Kirsten Fordham claims she was victimised after flagging concerns to management in October 2019 and has now been allowed to pursue her case at an employment tribunal.

Within weeks of asking to move desk due to harassment, she went on to face disciplinary action for improperly accessing case records of family members and other people she knew.

Ms Fordham, who began working with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in April 2019, was eventually dismissed in October 2020.

She initially launched a tribunal claim for sexual harassment, victimisation and age discrimination, but a preliminary judgment on the case ruled that only the victimisation claim was allowed to proceed as the other claims were out of time.

She also does not have the necessary two years’ service to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal.

The judgment states: “The judgment of the tribunal is that it is just and equitable to allow the claim of victimisation under s27 of the Equality Act to proceed. A final hearing will be listed to consider this claim.

“All other claims are out of time and the tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider them.”

The tribunal heard that when Ms Fordham first raised a complaint of sexual harassment, she only wanted to move desk and not take anything further as the wife of the employee she accused also worked at COPFS.

However, she later raised it again with her line manager after receiving an email from the colleague involved.

It was also raised again during her disciplinary hearing. At this point she was encouraged to raise a formal grievance or complaint but did not do so.

The tribunal will consider the victimisation claim at a later date.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “COPFS values its employees very highly and their welfare is of great importance to the organisation.

“Harassment of any kind is not tolerated and there are robust policies in place to deal with allegations of inappropriate behaviour. 

“COPFS will continue to defend this action and it would, accordingly, not be appropriate to comment further on the substance of this case.”

 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992