AN employment tribunal has upheld a complaint against a district council after being told a trainee solicitor was bullied and intimidated.
David Bowes, a trainee solicitor with Hambleton district council, secretly taped meetings where he was criticised and repeatedly asked the same questions.
His solicitor, Marie Horner, said after months of bullying and intimidation and unwarranted official warnings, the law graduate and former business community support officer resigned.
He had been on sick leave and had to seek help from his GP for stress and anxiety.
Mr Bowe’s case for constructive dismissal and breach of training contract, was upheld by an employment tribunal at Teesside Magistrates Court. A financial settlement has since been agreed out of court.
But Mr Bowes said: “Even winning this case is a hollow victory as I have still lost my training contract.
“No monetary award can make up for the fact that I now look highly unlikely to fulfill my dream of qualifying as a solicitor especially as I spent more than £20,000 on tuition fees alone to gain my legal qualifications.”
Before the hearing, Judge Jennie Wade had been played the secretly recorded tapes of Mr Bowes meetings with the council’s legal manager Laura Venn and Director of Law and Governance Gary Nelson.
The complainant took up an internal vacancy as a trainee solicitor with Hambleton in November 2014.
But Ms Horner said he soon found himself the target of constant criticism – largely for the time he took to complete work when he wanted to be thorough.
When he tried to raise grievances, Ms Horner said officers closed ranks and didn’t seem interested in resolving the issue fairly.
She added:“David Bowes was trying to work to the best of his ability and complete his training but Gary Nelson sent him formal warning letters without any regard to due process under employment law.”
Hambleton District Council chief executive Dr Justin Ives said: “The council doesn’t agree with this judgment but it respects the judges’s decision and comments. However, it is not in the taxpayers interest to pursue an appeal.”