Former barmaid reaches tribunal settlement with Gorleston Golf Club after collapsing at work

Gorleston Golf Club, where Michele Polidano worked.

Gorleston Golf Club, where Michele Polidano worked. - Credit: Archant © 2009

A former barmaid has spoken of her relief at the end of an 11-month ordeal, after settling her claim for constructive dismissal against the golf club where she worked.

A former barmaid has spoken of her relief at the end of an 11-month ordeal, after settling her claim for constructive dismissal against the golf club where she worked.

Michele Polidano's line manager at Gorleston Golf Club, Allen Gray, a qualified first aider, sat drinking in the club bar and refused to help after she collapsed in a diabetic coma, saying he was off-duty – conduct described as 'appalling behaviour, contemptuous and unacceptable' by an employment judge.

A tribunal found in Ms Polidano's favour on a claim of constructive dismissal, saying the club failed to make reasonable adjustments to her working conditions given her diabetes, and a hearing was held in Norwich yesterday for the two parties to reach a settlement.

The hearing, which was held up as the two sides met for last-minute negotiations, lasted less than a minute and was told simply that Ms Polidano and Gorleston Golf Club had reached an agreement over the events of August 5 last year, though the details of the settlement have not been released.


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Last night, the 53-year-old, of Buxton Avenue, said she felt she was getting her life back.

'I'm just so pleased that it's all over with,' she said. 'The last 11 months have been really, really stressful. I feel like my life has been on hold.'

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She thanked members of the golf club for the support and encouragement she had received over the past year.

'They are kind and decent people and most of them had no idea of what I was going through – I think a lot of them were surprised. But every time I wanted to give up, they helped me to keep going.'

Ms Polidano reserved special thanks for the three members who rushed to her aid when she collapsed.

'I get upset even thinking about it now, but if it wasn't for them there's a possibility I might not be here today. I was very fortunate,' she said.

She added she had not received an apology from the club, and still could not understand Mr Gray's behaviour.

'I was so shocked [at ] at the time that I resigned the next day. Personally I can't imagine treating another human being that way. I'm still shocked at what he didn't do.'

Gorleston Golf Club manager David James yesterday declined to comment on the tribunal.

The hearing on March 26 and 27 was told that when Ms Polidano collapsed, Mr Gray continued drinking with friends, making no attempt to call an ambulance 'on the grounds that he was off-duty'.

The pair had had a strained relationship since Mr Gray became her manager in 2011, and deteriorated further when rules forbidding eating behind the bar were introduced, meaning that Ms Polidano could not take her medication.

Club manager Mr James told the tribunal that Ms Polidano was allowed to eat in the TV room and leave the bar unattended, but the evidence was dismissed, with judge Robin Postle saying in his written judgement that Mr James was 'an evasive witness who found the truth an elusive concept'.

Mr Postle also underlined the gravity of Ms Polidano's collapse, adding: 'One has to bear in mind that if a hypoglycaemic attack goes untreated it could lead to cardiac arrest.'

Ms Polidano's claims of indirect discrimination and discrimination arising from disability were dismissed.

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