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Woman 'tied to chair at work' unsuccessful in bid for damages

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claims she was subjected to a campaign of harassment by colleagues.

DeeAnne Fitzpatrick: Abuse said to have taken place over two years.
DeeAnne Fitzpatrick: Abuse said to have taken place over two years.

A Scottish Government agency employee who says she was subjected to a campaign of harassment by colleagues has been unsuccessful in her bid to claim up to £42,000 in damages.

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claimed she has experienced bullying and harassment after she became a "whistleblower" while employed at Marine Scotland.

The 49-year-old Canadian national told an employment tribunal she was sent intimidating anonymous cards, targeted with sexual harassment and bullied over her age.

The abuse is said to have taken place between 2015 and 2017 while she was based in the organisation's office in Scrabster and continued after she was signed off.

An allegation that she was taped to a chair and gagged by her colleagues could not be considered by the tribunal as the alleged incident took place more than three years before her complaint.

Two men named in the complaint denied sending the cards. Neither were required to give evidence of their handwriting at the tribunal.

Ms Fitzpatrick has now been informed that the tribunal will not uphold her complaint.

'The tribunal did however highlight that the human resources department could have been more proactive in dealing with the matter by launching an investigation, questioning staff and reminding staff that such matters might be regarded as being grounds for disciplinary action'
Fitzpatrick family statement

In a statement, her family said: "The Fitzpatrick family are hugely disappointed with the result of the tribunal.

"However, this was not unexpected given the decision was made prior to the employment tribunal by the previous judge not to look at the restraint and other behaviours over a decade that our sister suffered while working in the Scrabster Fishery office.

"The tribunal did however highlight that the human resources department could have been more proactive in dealing with the matter by launching an investigation, questioning staff and reminding staff that such matters might be regarded as being grounds for disciplinary action.

"Not only the judges on the tribunal panel but us as DeeAnn's family found it astonishing that the Scottish Government's disciplinary policy allows employees the right to remain silent and they need not answer questions that may incriminate them.

"What is far more important now is that the Scottish Government delivers a safe work place for DeeAnn and other employees."

The tribunal was told Ms Fitzpatrick was seeking between £25,200 and £42,000 in damages.

Ms Fitzpatrick has worked for Marine Scotland, which oversees work in the country's seas, since 2006. She is currently on special leave.

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