A former Highland pharmacy manager accused of bullying staff has lost an employment tribunal, at which she claimed unfair dismissal.
Ibolya Martin said she was forced to resign from her post at the Co-op pharmacy, at Lairg, Sutherland, after being suspended last year.
She claimed that the firm used bullying allegations as an excuse to remove her from her post, as she had repeatedly raised concerns about the building’s disabled access and fire safety procedures.
Giving evidence yesterday, the 50-year-old, of Old Place, Lairg, said she felt “sick and humiliated” after being suspended. “I think they had no right to force me out,” she said. “I believe that, as I was blowing the whistle on health and safety and fire safety, I was victimised by the company.”
Pharmacy staff member Heather MacLeay told the tribunal that she and colleague Lindsey MacNeil made a joint complaint to the company about their treatment by Mrs Martin.
She said: “By that time we had just come to the end of our tether. We felt that things were getting worse and worse for us.
“My family said I couldn’t go on like this, not sleeping and being a nervous wreck.”
Mrs Martin, who was suspended on December 10 last year and resigned shortly afterwards, was also accused of letting husband Laszlo Szabo enter the pharmacy, in the village’s Main Street, out of hours.
She represented herself at the two-day tribunal in Inverness, during which she claimed unfair and constructive dismissal.
Judith McCormack, defence agent for the Co-op, said during her closing statement that the company did not breach its contract with Mrs Martin “in any way, shape or form”.
She said: “Two allegations were made against the complainer, which were both serious: one was bullying and one was misuse of company property. There was no breach, so whatever caused the complainer to resign may have been a reaction on her part, but ultimately we did not breach the contract.”
Announcing his verdict, employment judge James Hendry said that the firm had not acted improperly by suspending Mrs Martin.
He said: “We stress that at this stage the allegations were not proven, and it was just part of the disciplinary process.
“It’s clear that the claimant’s relationship with the two other workers had deteriorated considerably and in our view it is wholly appropriate to suspend someone in these circumstances.”
After the hearing, Mrs Martin, who moved to Scotland from Hungary in 2007, said she would appeal the decision.
“I think it was a miscarriage of justice and the whole procedure was unfair,” she said. “I did my best for my patients and I am very disappointed.”