A psychologist who worked with murderers and rapists at Grendon High Security Prison has told an employment tribunal a colleague forced her to resign by sending sexually explicit and abusive text messages, slashing her tyres, and leaving dismembered Barbie dolls next to her car.
Vivienne Harte, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is now suing the Ministry of Justice for sexual discrimination and constructive dismissal for failing to stop the harassment and intimidation, which she claims forced her to quit.
Before resigning Ms. Harte allegedly complained to the prison governor and was told such behaviour was "to be expected" at the jail. "He suggested I might have rejected someone's advances sexually and seemed to find it amusing," said Ms. Harte. "I was appalled."
She distrusted colleagues to such a degree that she became worried she'd be left to fend for herself if trouble broke out at the prison. Ultimately, she decided to resign after her trade union, Prospect, told her it would be unsafe to continue working there.
What is constructive dismissal?
To prove constructive dismissal, Ms. Harte must show her employer committed a serious breach of contract, she did not accept the breach, and she resigned because of the breach. Examples of serious breaches of contract in this context include the following:
- Making it impossible for you to do your job effectively;
- Failing to give you reasonable support to carry out your job without disruption, harassment or bullying from co-workers; &
- Forcing you to work in conditions where health and safety regulations are not observed.
Proving constructive dismissal is not easy, so always seek advice before quitting your job. Factors such as your employment status, the terms of your employment contract, length of service, and reasons for leaving all require consideration.
** Additional Information & Advice **
You can obtain further information about constructive dismissal on FindLaw.
Depending on your circumstances, however, you may prefer to speak with an employment law solicitor. You can be matched with a solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.