A FORMER team leader at a respite care centre in Skipton for adults with high needs who was sacked amid claims of racism and bullying has been awarded £22,625 compensation after winning a claim for unfair dismissal.

An employment tribunal has found North Yorkshire County Council’s sacking of Amy Driver in March last year was “substantially and procedurally unfair” and that she had not been shown to have contributed to her dismissal.

After employment judge O’Neill concluded the local authority made a catalogue of errors, Catherine McCarty, head of human resources for the council’s adult and community services, said the council fully respected the judgment of the tribunal, but was disappointed by the outcome.

She said: “We have an excellent track record as a fair and considerate employer that supports and enables staff to perform at their best and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect by all.”

The hearing at Leeds Combined Court heard Miss Driver was sacked after an investigation at Jubilee Lodge, in Skipton, in 2017 concluded that there was “a culture of bullying and harassment at the establishment underpinned by racial prejudice, homophobia and Islamophobia” and it was suggested she was “in effect a ring leader”.

The tribunal was told Miss Driver, who had worked for the council since 2010, appealed against the decision by the council’s disciplinary panel, saying her dismissal was unfair and that she had not committed the alleged misconduct, but the council’s appeal panel had upheld the decision.

But in the judgment, Judge O’Neill found the charges set out in Miss Driver’s suspension letter – that she had committed misconduct ‘relating to racially discriminatory behaviour towards colleagues at Jubilee Lodge’ had been “generic and vague”, making it impossible for her to know what she was alleged to have done, when and to whom.

The tribunal also concluded the approach taken by the council’s disciplinary panel to evaluating the evidence of the witnesses to be “unreasoned and unreasonable”.

The tribunal found the council failed to look into Miss Driver’s explanations, did not attempt to explore her allegation of a conspiracy, leading Judge O’Neill to state the council’s investigation had not been sufficiently thorough.