A solicitor with the Crown Prosecution Service who became ‘unreasonably obsessional’ about perceived grievances at work has lost her claim that she was victimised and bullied.
Employment Judge P Britton, sitting in Nottingham, said the claimant Mrs N Hepburn was not victimised by her bosses due to her disability status, and he dismissed her claims of bullying, victimisation and discrimination following a nine-day hearing in September.
Hepburn suffered from migraines and later a knee injury, and claimed she was subject to continuing unjustified attacks on her performance from a succession of managers. She claimed the CPS was dismissive of her disability status, putting her to ‘onerous and strict’ standards of proof and rejecting expert opinions and reports.
But the judge said there was ‘clear sympathy’ for Hepburn from her employer and he found ‘by and large no objective justification’ for making allegations that her managers were dishonest.
He said Hepburn was not acting in bad faith but instead was ‘unreasonably obsessional and unable to act in a detached way whereby she stood back and tried to look at matters in a more rational way’.
The judge said Hepburn clearly had medical issues but she reacted unreasonably to attempts to address them. The treatment of her by one manager, portrayed as the victimiser by Hepburn, ‘flies in the face of a victimising approach’, found the tribunal. This manager, said the judge, was ‘driven beyond endurance’ by Hepburn’s behaviour. During cross-examination by a relative of Hepburn, this manager suffered an emotional breakdown when her ill mother was brought into the discussion: the tribunal was ‘deeply concerned’ at this line of questioning which ‘unnecessary and aggravating’.
The tribunal heard Hepburn worked in the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, which was in some disarray during the period in question and going through several managerial changes.
Rebecca Edwards, a senior Crown prosecutor, told the tribunal she was supported by different managers and although the department was stressful, that was not all their fault.
Sarah Humphreys, another senior Crown prosecutor, also did not support Hepburn’s submissions, saying that workloads had reduced and the intensity from management had levelled off.
The tribunal also ruled that Hepburn’s manager from 2018 had done his ‘utmost’ to deal with issues she had developed with her leg. She had been reassured she could work from home when she was unable to come into the office, providing taxi transport if she need to attend conferences.