A bullied health worker has received a five-figure payout after being discriminated against because of her sexuality.
Primary care manager Vicky Walker left NHS Highland after experiencing what she described as “relentless harassment and victimisation”.
During her time on the Isle of Mull, anonymous letters were posted to her manager which claimed the 37-year-old was “flouting her sexuality on the island”.
NHS Highland has now apologised to Ms Walker and issued the five-figure payment as a gesture of compensation.
The health authority has also written to Ms Walker’s former colleagues warning of the consequences should they fail to adhere to the strict values put in place to respect current and former workmates.
Ms Walker said: “This marks the end of an incredibly difficult two years during which I suffered relentless harassment and victimisation while working for, and since leaving, NHS Highland.
“The decision to pursue litigation was not an easy one, however, I felt I had to try to ensure my situation was not repeated for any other employee.
“It started with low-level homophobic comments in the workplace. It continued over a period of time. There was a lot of undermining of my position by suggesting decisions had a sexual element which didn’t exist.
“Anonymous letters were written to my manager saying I was flouting my sexuality on the island.”
The legal action was taken after Ms Walker raised her case with Unison, who pursued the matter through Thompsons Solicitors.
Simon Macfarlane, of the trade union, said it was happy to assist Ms Walker during her “horrible experience” stating it was “regrettable we had to pursue litigation which was stressful for Vicky”.
He added: “Time and time again senior management refused to step in on this case and instead stood behind unacceptable practice.
“This is a pattern we see all too often in NHS Highland.
“Vicky is to be commended for taking a stand and showing such perseverance. We hope this settlement will, at last, provide some closure and allow her to move on with her life.”
NHS Highland’s director of HR and organisational development, Fiona Hogg, said she was “keen to ensure no-one else has a similar experience”.
She said: “I met with Ms Walker during the judicial mediation and listened to her experiences and sincerely apologised on behalf of the board.
“I gave Ms Walker my personal commitment that the learning she shared with me will be taken into account in our plans to transform the culture of NHS Highland.
“I would like to reiterate my sincere apologies that Ms Walker’s experience with the board has fallen so far below what I would expect of the organisation.”
Ms Walker added: “I am encouraged that NHS Highland wish to learn from my experience and have acknowledged the systemic failures by both HR and management.
“I hope they can now take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of LGBT employees and their allies within their organisation.”