Woman wins £250,000 after being fired following row about working New Year’s Eve
Woman wins £250,000 after being fired following row about working New Year’s Eve

Woman wins £250,000 after being fired following row about working New Year's Eve
Elaine Worsley was struggling with her mental health when she was dismissed (Picture: Getty Images)

An HMRC admin worker who suffered with depression has won almost £250,000 in compensation after being fired by a boss who she claimed ‘made her life a misery’.

Elaine Worsley’s relationship with manager and former friend, Linda Marrison, deteriorated when she refused to let her take New Year’s Eve off, an employment tribunal heard.

She later refused to let her move teams, and told her to go home during a heated discussion which left her ‘distraught’.

After going on leave, Ms Worsley started to have suicidal feelings, but one month later was fired from the organisation she had dedicated 45 years of her life to.

A Manchester hearing was told Mrs Worsley had worked as an administrative officer at the city’s HMRC office since leaving school.

She had been close with Ms Marrison, with the pair buying each other chocolate and flowers.

But things turned sour when the annual leave request submitted in autumn 2014 for a holiday in Wales over New Year was rejected.

Ms Marrison apparently told Mrs Worlsey the holiday time was a ‘wish list’ – something she believed to be ‘unfair’ as she ‘never took time off in summer and was owed a substantial amount of annual leave’.

A meeting on October 13 was witnessed by their colleague, Helen Mitchell, who ‘firmly believed’ the breakdown of their relationship ‘stemmed’ from the annual leave dispute.

Ms Mitchell offered to cover Mrs Worlsey’s shift on New Year’s Eve but this idea was rejected by Ms Marrison.

Ms Mitchell claimed the manager was unwilling to ‘meet Mrs Worsley halfway’ and was standing her ground and ‘asserting her authority’.

London, Uk - Circa June 2017: HMRC Her Majesty Revenue and Customs sign
Mrs Worsley had worked for the non-ministerial department for 45 years since she was 16 (Picture: Getty Images)

Mrs Worsley considered there to be a ‘clash of personalities’ between her and her boss, something that could only be rectified if she moved teams.

When she broached the topic, Ms Marrison is said to have not even looked up, responding ‘like that’s ever going to happen’.

As Mrs Worlsey battled ongoing mental health issues, the two women went onto clash over a forgotten meeting in November.

Following a comment from Ms Marrison, Mrs Worsley replied that she should leave her alone or ‘I may as well go home’ – to which the manager ‘snapped’ back, saying, ‘well go on then, go home, go on, go’.

Mrs Worsley told the hearing: ‘To tell anybody as depressed as I am to go home to an empty house where I have no support is despicable.’

On December 1, the admin worker submitted a nine-page document alongside a letter from her GP describing her depression, ‘detailing allegations of bullying by Ms Marrison’.

Following this, Ms Marrison banned her from working overtime ‘with immediate effect’ to ‘help you to maintain a more healthy work/life balance’.

But Mrs Worsley told the court that her job was ‘her rock’ and she ‘enjoyed’ overtime, relying on it to get her by financially.

In the new year, Mrs Worsley went on leave, but by March 2015 was ‘extremely unwell and felt suicidal and isolated from colleagues’.

She wrote to HMRC in March, saying she wanted to return to work but could only do so if she be ‘separated’ from Ms Marrison as her manager.

On 13 April 2015, Mrs Worsley was dismissed when the tax collection agency concluded there was ‘no prospect of her returning to work within a reasonable time’.

Now, she has been awarded a £243,957.28 payout after a tribunal ruled she was discriminated against and unfairly dimissed. This includes £20,000 for injury to feelings as well as £25,000 for personal injury.

Employment Judge Anthony Ross said Ms Marrison ‘lacked sensitivity’ and ‘did not seem to be aware of the guidance about possible signs of depression and mental health’.

‘Mrs Worsley had an extraordinary length of service, of over 40 years. She was absent from work for a relatively short period of time on sick leave of less than 3 months when the decision to dismiss was taken’, he said.

‘We find a reasonable employer of this size and undertaking in the above particular circumstances would not have dismissed her.

‘HMRC is a large organisation. There was no clear explanation why Mrs Worsley could not have been moved to [a different team].

‘Mrs Worsley was a disabled person suffering from the impairment of depression. She was a vulnerable individual.

‘We find Mrs Worsley became increasingly unwell and eventually went absent from work with depression which was related to stress at work, which in turn was caused by working with Ms Marrison.’

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