Dundee christian teacher gets harrassment payout

Margaret Malcolm has been awarded �100,000 damages against Dundee City Council. Picture: submitted
Margaret Malcolm has been awarded �100,000 damages against Dundee City Council. Picture: submitted
Share this article
49
Have your say

DUNDEE City Council has been forced to pay £100,000 compensation to a former school worker who suffered “obscene” harrassment from male colleagues.

Devout Christian Margaret Malcolm said workers at a Dundee school stuck a Blu-Tack penis to her telephone.

The 56-year-old former technician at Baldragon Academy also found genitalia drawn on paper dolls she had made for a Brownie troop.

Miss Malcolm resigned in 2002 and has been battling the council for 11 years.

In finding her claim of sexual harassment proven, an industrial tribunal said the behavior of her former colleagues had been “of an obscene and shameful nature”.

At one hearing, the tribunal heard that male technicians regularly baited her and used “coarse industrial language” directly in front of Miss Malcolm, despite knowing she was a devout Christian.

She described an incident where she discovered drawings of male genitalia on paper cut-out dolls she had prepared for her Brownie troop.

The tribunal ruled colleagues had “decided to conduct a planned campaign of obscene behaviour against Miss Malcolm because they considered that she was a vulnerable individual who was very naïve sexually and a devout Christian.”

The tribunal decided “it was sexual harassment of a serious kind and went on for seven or eight months”.

Claudio Canniggia

It was revealed in yesterday’s judgement that a male colleague, in a reference to Argentinian footballer Claudio Canniggia, had written on a noticeboard “Caniggia is God”.

Miss Malcolm changed “God” to “Good” but the male employee changed it back.

She answered the phone at work one day to find a model of a penis, modelled in Blu-Tack, stuck to the receiver.

Colleagues asked her if she knew what it was and whether it was to scale.

Miss Malcolm squashed it, but was shocked on later answering the phone to find another model penis, this time with replica pubic hair

And she described an incident where she discovered drawings of male genitalia on paper cut-out dolls she had prepared for her Brownie troop.

The tribunal ruled that she should receive £25,000 from the council for the injury to her feelings.

They were also ordered to pay her £12,500 for psychiatric injury and £25, 603 for loss of earnings.

Receiving interest at 8% from as far back as 2001, plus a sum for loss of pension rights, will take the final sum beyond £100,000.

‘Shameful’

The council accepted that they owed compensation to Miss Malcolm for the unlawful and “plainly shameful” conduct of their employees.

After taking the case to an employment tribunal in April 2002, a series of hearings took place the following year but her claims were originally dismissed.

But after it was revealed that one of the tribunal members, had fallen asleep during a hearing the decision was reversed.

In March 2005, a new tribunal heard the case again and there were three further hearings over the next three years.

At one stage the case was returned to the tribunal from the Court of Session in Edinburgh, where a judge said the amount of time and expense involved in the row with Dundee City Council was “staggering”.

A spokesman from Dundee City Council said: “We are studying the judgement thoroughly.”