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University college had ‘a culture of bullying’ tribunal hears
Updated 8:29am Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
AN EMPLOYMENT tribunal was told yesterday Kellogg College had a “culture of bullying”.
Former events co-ordinator Catriona Carter Jonas, of Adkin Way, Wantage, is suing the Chancellor, masters and scholars of Oxford University for alleged discrimination on age grounds, unfair dismissal and non-payment of outstanding wages.
Yesterday the Reading tribunal heard claims that college bursar Donna Lipsky shoved the Rev Robin Gibbons, a Roman Catholic priest, out of an office and caused a door to slam in his face.
The allegation was made by Keith Fraser, who also worked at the college. He said he saw Mrs Lipsky act like an “alpha-personality” in bullying Miss Carter Jonas and others.
He was employed as an interim bursar on a four-month contract from January 4, 2012, but was sacked six weeks later.
Mr Fraser told the tribunal there was a “culture of bullying within Kellogg College which was driven by Mrs Lipsky”. He said he lost his job after he stood up for other members of staff.
Alice Carse, representing the college, said Mr Fraser was really just annoyed he had not been successful in applying for Mrs Lipsky’s permanent role.
The tribunal also heard that Miss Carter Jonas had allegedly been called a “wrinkly old bag” by the previous bursar, Sarah Gauntlett, and that she overheard Mrs Lipsky tell a colleague: “We need someone cheaper, younger, stronger.”
Miss Carter-Jonas, 53, also claimed her workload was increased by up to 80 per cent, and said she was banned from asking for any help from colleagues.
She also claimed Mrs Lipsky spied on her.
Judge Robin Lewis also heard that Mrs Lipsky allegedly told Mr Fraser her management style was to “sit on people until she breaks them”.
Miss Carter Jonas worked at the college for six years from 2007 and resigned in March 2013, having been signed off sick for the previous eight months.
She was subject to a disciplinary hearing in 2011 and again in June 2012, after which she lodged a formal grievance against Mrs Lipsky, along with six other staff members including Mr Fraser.
Miss Carse said Miss Carter Jonas was “making something out of nothing” and her grievances were thoroughly investigated before being dismissed, both initially and on appeal.
She said there were concerns over her accuracy, ability to follow instructions, punctuality and work management and she was given opportunities to improve following disciplinary procedures, which Miss Carter Jonas denies.
Miss Carse added that Mrs Lipsky, an American national, merely had a “firm management style”.
The tribunal continues.