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UEA lecturer awarded £55k compensation for unfair dismissal

PUBLISHED: 08:10 10 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:10 10 May 2020

The University of East Anglia has been told to pay £55,000 compensation to a lecturer who was unfairly dismissed. Picture: Denise Bradley

The University of East Anglia has been told to pay £55,000 compensation to a lecturer who was unfairly dismissed. Picture: Denise Bradley

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A former University of East Anglia lecturer who claimed to be the victim of sex and race discrimination has been awarded more than £55,000 compensation after an employment tribunal found she was unfairly dismissed.

The UEA School of Medicine  where Dr Cristina Fanutti worked as a lecturer in immunology. Picture: Archant LibraryThe UEA School of Medicine where Dr Cristina Fanutti worked as a lecturer in immunology. Picture: Archant Library

Dr Cristina Fanutti was first employed in 2003 and worked as a lecturer in immunology at the UEA Norwich Medical School until 2012.

The lecturer, who is Italian, subsequently lodged employment tribunal claims in May 2012 and December 2013 alleging in each that she had been subjected to sexual and racial harassment and victimisation.

In a third claim lodged in December 2014 she made further allegations of race and sex discrimination and additional claims of unfair dismissal and breach of contract saying that she had not received notice pay or accrued holiday pay.

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An employment tribunal held in 2015 rejected her claims under the Equality Act 2010 but upheld her complaint that she had been unfairly dismissed.

Dr Fanutti, who was 52 and had 10 years service with the UEA when she was dismissed from her job in Norwich, had an annual salary of £45,053, plus employers’ pension contributions of a further £7,208.

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A remedy hearing that heard evidence in March from witnesses using online Skype video links and over the telephone due to the coronavirus lockdown, ruled the UEA should pay her compensation of £55,610 for unfair dismissal, made up of a basic award of £6,750 and a compensatory award of £48,860.

However in its ruling the tribunal states that Dr Fanutti’s own conduct had partly contributed to her dismissal describing her as someone who characterises treatment she disagrees with as “unreasonable”, “oppressive”, “bullying”, “harassment” or “victimisation” with little regard to its context or that “an employee is under an obligation to follow reasonable management instructions”.

It said she had made “gratuitous and unreasonable allegations”, in particular against School of Medicine colleagues Prof Richard Holland and Prof David Crossman.

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They added: “We find that the claimant was a difficult employee to manage. Prof Crossman described her as the most difficult individual he had ever had to deal with in his working life.

“We observe, too, that the claimant described herself as “feisty” in her evidence and submissions to us. We understood this to mean that she was not afraid to speak out when she disagreed with something or someone.”

The tribunal said it was “not practicable” to make an order for Dr Fanutti to be reinstated by the UEA because there had been a “breakdown in trust and confidence”.

The UEA has been approached for comment.


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