AN under-fire charity has been ordered to pay a former employee £6,000 after a judge ruled she had been unfairly axed from her job.
Sharon Henderson won a tribunal for unfair dismissal against Hartlepool’s Manor Residents’ Association which employed her as a support worker for people with personal problems.
Mrs Henderson is the third former employee to win a payout after cleaner Linda Gooding was awarded £8,805 for constructive dismissal.
Youth support worker Carl Williams, 25, won almost £4,000 after he was not paid the minimum wage and never had a contract.
Mrs Henderson, 47, was made redundant in April when funding for the project she was working on came to an end.
She was invited to apply for one of two new posts as a “floating support worker” based at the same place.
But the job went to a volunteer for another support service run by Manor Residents’ Association.
The tribunal at Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard there was no consultation process and nothing was put in writing until Mrs Henderson was given a month’s notice in March.
The single mum was almost evicted from her home in Jute Grove, Hartlepool, and suffered depression because of the financial straits she found herself in.
Mrs Henderson, who represented herself, told the tribunal she was regularly paid late by the charity after its bank account was frozen when it fell victim to fraud.
She told association manager Angie Wilcox: “I was in the job for two years and had a good success rate.
“You took one person off the dole and put somebody already in a job on to the dole.”
Mrs Henderson worked with people with a range of personal issues based at the 10-bed supported living complex in Glamis Walk, Hartlepool.
But Manor Residents’ Association changed the role to a floating support worker after funding from the Northern Rock Foundation came to an end earlier this year.
Miss Wilcox said the new job was “significantly different” with a wider scope and the charity’s management committee decided to advertise in the interests of openness.
But employment judge Maureen Singleton said the charity had a duty to prioritise existing employees if they could do the job, adding: “I think the claimant was unfairly dismissed.”
Mrs Henderson was awarded a total of £6,106 including compensation, loss of earnings and loss of future earnings. She said: “It is just such a relief. It has had a big impact on me. Now I can put it all behind me and look for further employment.”
Miss Wilcox said afterwards: “We probably should have been a bit tighter on the procedural things, but we are a small organisation and did everything verbally.”
She added the charity now gets advice from a consultancy firm on all human resources issues and said the court order will not affect the work of the association.