Bosses at a popular tourist shop were forced to pay £10,000 to a former employee accused of wearing her cancer ‘as a badge’.
Amanda McCartney, 49, was a seasonal food and drinks worker at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum, Scotland, between March and July last year she was diagnosed with the disease.
An employment tribunal in Edinburgh found Ms McCartney suffered disability discrimination over six weeks and ordered Green Welly partners Mr E Robertson and Mrs F Robertson to pay the five-figure compensation sum for injuring her feelings.
The tribunal heard how workers at the A82 gift shop and service station were ‘getting fed up’ with Ms McCartney talking about her cancer, were overheard saying ‘Is she still going on about it again?’ and that some of them were of the opinion she was ‘wearing cancer as a badge’.
At no point were employees told by management to stop their ‘negative discussion’.
Ms McCartney had complained to her line manager that she was ‘sick of people being rude, nasty and bullying’.
The tribunal heard of a personality clash with another employee which started at the hot food counter and was taken outside.
During the argument, the employee told Ms McCartney she was a ‘liar’ about having cancer and said she (Ms McCartney) was ‘happy she had cancer’. Two managers witnessed it but took no action and the woman was later promoted by bosses. The tribunal found that the incident ‘violated her dignity’.
Ms McCartney’s partner, Ian Scott-Moncrieff, who also worked there, told the tribunal how she cried before going to work and did not want to go because of the hostile environment.
Her GP provided bosses with a statement regarding her fitness for work which suggested, ‘heavy loads are difficult given tumour site and size and this work should not be carried out’. The GP also said she should have the opportunity to sit when needed.
The Green Welly’s defence solicitor said his clients accepted Ms McCartney had suffered harassment but added as a small business the respondents had been “consistently sympathetic”, making as many adjustments as they could. “The overarching evidence suggests that even though they were unable to do everything right, they were a caring employer trying to do their best,” he said. The tribunal accepted Ms McCartney’s evidence that the actions of the respondents caused her considerable upset, which she felt caused her health to deteriorate.