A woman who claims she endured 10 years of bullying at a government agency says she has been moved by global messages of support since taking her employers to tribunal.
Yesterday, as the second and final day of DeeAnn Fitzpatrick’s tribunal against Marine Scotland concluded, it emerged that she could be awarded £42,000 if judges find in her favour.
But solicitor for the government agency, Andrew Gibson, urged the panel to dismiss the Canadian 49-year-old’s claims and described her as “capable of making malicious allegations” against her male colleagues in the Caithness office.
Ms Fitzpatrick clutched her sister Sherry’s hand for support as she addressed the case through her solicitor, Michael Briggs, outside the tribunal building in Aberdeen afterwards.
Mr Briggs said: “A lot of people have reached out to DeeAnn from around the world.
“Some were simple messages of support and encouragement but the majority were from people in similar situations thanking her for having the bravery to come out.”
Ms Fitzpatrick claims that she was tied to a chair and gagged by male colleagues at the Marine Scotland in Scrabster, mocked for suffering a miscarriage and constantly tormented because of her age, sex and nationality.
But due to the age of those allegations, the tribunal ruled that no judgment could be made on their validity.
The hearing solely focussed on the assertion that Ms Fitzpatrick’s colleagues harassed her by sending anonymous Valentine’s Day and birthday cards between 2015 and 2017.
Handwritten messages on the cards said the fishery officer had male genitals and referred to her as “old troll” and “Canadian Jock” – nicknames she claims workplace bullies gave her.
On Wednesday, Ms Fitzpatrick told the tribunal that ongoing abuse led her to “contact Dignitas” with a view to arranging an assisted suicide.
During yesterday’s hearing, Mr Gibson referenced reports completed by occupational health workers from 2017, wherein Ms Fitzpatrick said she was “not suicidal”.
Mr Gibson said: “Has she really been as upset as she is claiming to have been?
“Ms Fitzpatrick has been through the disciplinary process before for making up a malicious allegation. There was a suspicion that is something she is capable of.”
The lawyer encouraged judges to “throw out” the case due to a lack of evidence the cards had been sent by colleagues.
He argued that they could have been posted by “disgruntled fishermen”, members of the public or Ms Fitzpatrick herself.
Mr Briggs described those suggestions as “risible”.
He asked the panel to find that the cards were sent by colleagues and to award his client the maximum sum possible of £42,000.
Judge James Hendry advised that the decision will be revealed in five or six weeks.