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Homophobic harassment by an NHS colleague.


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Hi Guys,

Some guidance would be hugely appreciated please.

 

I've been working in a frontline NHS department for three years, and previously another three years in another department. A new Dr started working here approx' two years ago and made his strong religious beliefs widely known. He's made a few comments here and there regarding his disapproval at my same-sex relationship amongst other things, albeit always polite (and slightly condescending)

He has also made comments to nursing staff regarding his disapproval at their being pregnant whilst unmarried etc. Several members of staff, me included, have raised our concerns informally about this.

 

A few weeks ago however this Dr approached me whilst I was working alone (as usual) and told me he had seen the news regarding gay marriage and said it was "a very sad day for the country". I said that I preferred to call it equal marriage and thought it was wonderful news.

Then followed about ten minutes of the most offensive (weirdly polite) rant. He said God was not not happy for me and that he would appreciate the opportunity of changing my thoughts about my sexuality. He said I would be his "ultimate". He said I needed to think about the end of my life and what was beyond it and kept repeating that he wants to try and change my thoughts.

Eventually I said that I did not believe in his God, or in pixies and faries for that matter, and what exactly would he like to achieve by following me around asking for the "opportunity".

I asked if he would prefer if I ended my 17 year relationship. He said yes. I told him if he ever tried to have this conversation with me again I would tell him to F*@k off.

 

I'm 38 years old and felt like I was 14 again. I was so upset. I actually felt like I was seedy / dirty.

 

I reported him to his lead consultant and an investigation has started. But what has really p*@sed me off is that for two days following the formal allegation we continued to work alongside eachother with him repeatedly trying to speak to me. Hence I was pretending to be on the phone, hiding in the loo, making excuses to leave the department etc. Eventually after two days I took a days holiday on the last day so as to avoid him. Is this right?? Shouldn't he (or I) have been sent home or put on garden leave??

 

I have been on leave and have to return on Tuesday to attend a two hour formal interview (recorded) and after which will be starting my shift in the department although thankfully he will be off that day. During that day several of my colleagues will be removed from work to attend meetings of their own as witnesses to my complaint.

 

My stress is absolutely off the scale. I'm not sleeping, am taking sleeping pills, can't concentrate on anything else and have never felt so tense in my life. :-(

 

I considered speaking to my GP and possibly taking stress-related time off whilst this investigation is ongoing (a couple more weeks) but am also worried that this would prohibit me from also attending these complaint related meetings also? (From HR's perspective?) I don't want to have to use up all my holiday leave either. :-(

 

Any help here would be enormously appreciated.

 

Thanks.

 

Stressedreceptionist.

Edited by stressedreceptionist
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In writing, ask HR if you can work different shifts while he investigation is ongoing due to the stress this is causing you

 

If that is a no, go to the GP for help

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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You need to protect yourself here - in case the establishment turns against you - as it can easily do.

 

Makes lots of notes. Keep a diary off-site and keep it up to date.

 

Very delicately and very low-key seek the views of other staff who may have been affected. Privately, make notes of what they have said and if they have recounted any incidents to you, make as full a note as possible about them.

Involve your union and make a complaint to them that you are still being required to work with him.

 

However, the most important thing is to gather all of your evidence privately so that you are fully prepared in case "the worm turns".

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I think Emmzzi's and Bankfodder's advise are good here.

 

Also, maybe consider as part of your complaint a suggestion of informal discussion with him in order that you can say how the way he has expressed his views effected you.

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I think you should get your union involved (if you are in one)

 

Although he has every right to hold those views(however much I hate to admit it) he has no right to express them. The law is on your side. I assume that you have followed the correct grievance procedure?

 

It is hopeful that the trust is taking this seriously , do not let them brush it under the carpet

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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Thanks for the replies guys, really appreciated,

 

Just to reply to a couple of points;

 

This Dr has worked in the department for about two years now and has proved himself to be very fixed in his views. This isn't the first time he has made comments toward me, or others. There is a fair amount of history there from what I have learnt.

 

I have made a formal complaint under the NHS "Dignity At Work" policy which has triggered a formal investigation. I have already been interviewed, given a formal statement, followed by a written statement (in my own time during my annual leave period) and tomorrow at 9am (after starting work at 7.45 on my first day back) have to attend a formal two hour interview (to be recorded). I will have my partner with me during this meeting.

 

Following this meeting I am supposed to return to my department to continue my shift whilst other staff members are taken in turn to be interviewed also regarding this. The Dr in question has a couple of days off but will be back and we will be working in close contact very soon I believe. (I am hugely uncomfortable with this).

 

I have notified my union (Unison) who have allocated me a staff side rep who is being copied into all correspondence.

 

I've never felt stress like this in my life. I had the beginnings of a panic attack over the weekend whist in the supermarket, and I haven't experienced one of those in about ten years. I had planned to speak to my GP this morning but I would be concerned that she would probably want to sign me off work for the remainder of the investigation period (which would be a huge relief) but I'm worried that my HR department would not allow me to attend tomorrows meeting if I am signed from work??

 

Weirdly I feel guilty and don't see any upside to the outcome. If he is found guilty of the allegation, then I would have been responsible for (in all likelihood) a man with a kid (and another on the way) to lose his job. And whilst I am very very upset by his comments, I don't believe he is a 'bad' individual, just a brainwashed one who genuinely believes he has a duty to say and do these things. I also don't believe he would change his behaviour regardless of outcome.

If he is found not guilty however, then we both return to a working environment with a cloud of intense bad feeling / stress over our working lives.

I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel, and the stress is eating me, and my partner, up. I spent most of yesterday in tears. What a man eh.

 

Thanks again guys.

 

SR.

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You aren't responsible for situations of his making. Don't take that on.

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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I've got to say reading your post other than it being clear the worker should be forced to leave his personal views on his doorstep as a bare minimum as we all should before work each day, it does look like you are in essence compounding the issue and working yourself up to your own detriment.

 

Don't take this as having a go, i'm neither in your position or unable to see me not being quite blunt and brutal with any retort to that opinion so it's easy for me to say this.

 

I'd considerer asking for counselling to get you back down to a manageable level, it does not appear that either gagging or dismissing this worker will have any use to how you now feel and he's a doctor which tells me unless the NHS do not like him this position will protect him.

 

A quick look at the NHS DAW policy shows they will move you if you request it but do not have to move him unless they discipline him for the remarks first but do not dismiss, it even has the kindness of allowing you to use your annual leave if you wish, my advise if they ask if you want to do this is tell them politely to shove it.

 

7.25

During and after the investigation

7.26

Wherever possible, NHS Direct will try to ensure that the complainant and the alleged harasser are not required to work together while the complaint is under investigation.

 

This could involve giving the complainant the option of temporarily moving to a different post/place of work or working at home where possible, or taking annual leave, if they wish.

 

If the allegation is of gross misconduct, the alleged harasser may be suspended (on full pay) during the investigation and, if a disciplinary hearing is to be called, until disciplinary proceedings have been concluded

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Atlas, to have someone telling you that one of your fundamental characteristics are wrong is not only wrong but unlawful. Maybe only people who have suffered such discrimination can understand, i don't know. If this doctor can not keep his opinions to himself what sort of doctor is he. I am not saying he has to agree just that he should park his feelings at the door. If he was making unwanted comments about a different race or gender he would be out the door. You can not force anyone to like you but we all deserve respect and equality.

I do not go around telling people it is wrong to be str8 and i don't expect anyone to tell me it is wrong to be gay.

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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i agree completely but wasn't focusing on the act, more the outcome on the person this is having and unless the NHS suspend then this doctor is still going to be part of the OP's work

 

If this is 100% accurate they should fire the guy from a cannon in my view but i'm not the investigating manager

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Weirdly I feel guilty and don't see any upside to the outcome. If he is found guilty of the allegation, then I would have been responsible for (in all likelihood) a man with a kid (and another on the way) to lose his job. And whilst I am very very upset by his comments, I don't believe he is a 'bad' individual, just a brainwashed one who genuinely believes he has a duty to say and do these things. I also don't believe he would change his behaviour regardless of outcome.

 

SR.

 

Just to reiterate others replies : you aren't responsible for his behaviour (the root cause of your complaint) nor any adverse outcome on him of any investigation.

 

You have reported a concern : that is ALL you are "responsible for". Even if it is a bad outcome for him, you must also consider what might happen if you hadn't reported it : it sounds awful for you (even with the support of your partner) - but how might someone less able to deal with it / less able to report it have found such behaviour?

 

You've done the right thing : reporting it. Any fall out for him is his responsibility due to his actions, not yours for reporting it.

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I agree strongly with what others have said. You are not responsible for investigating this nor for any punishment given to him. You correctly raised a grievance and it is now for the employer to deal with it an appropriate manner after interviewing the doctor. You will not know the details of what is discussed directly between the doctor and the employer, similarly you do not know what he will say to the people investigating the grievance or if any other similar grievances were raised in the past or will be raised in future. It is entirely out of control and out of your hands: all you can do is try and move on with your life as best you can.

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What a nightmare for you, Stressed. I've no words of advice to offer that haven't already been said. I can however offer some rainbow support! Keep your chin up. As your employer, surely the NHS has a duty of care to consider your wellbeing in the workplace. This man's actions are entirely his own, religiously motivated or not - it's no excuse. You just keep on being fabulous xx

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Guys,

 

Thanks so much for your comments and support. Very appreciated.

 

Tuesday I had my formal interview with HR and senior management, which was recorded, and I've been told that this marked the end of my involvement in the investigation. (Hopefully). It's now a case of waiting.

 

Can I just say that no-one more than I is more shocked at the effect this has had on me. I'm a 38 year old man who has been comfortable and sure with my sexuality since I was about 13. I've been with my partner for 17 years, whom I love more now than ever. He comes from a military background and a strictly religious family whilst I come from a rather erratic upbringing with two homophobic fathers.

So I learnt very very quickly how to tackle bullying and homophobic comments very early on. I've always been extremely quick to stamp on comments that were intended to offend and can have quite a sharp tongue when needed.

But...

This guy attacked the core of who I am, who I love and what's really important to me, in my own workplace. Things I have spent all my life defending. If someone had said these things to me in a pub, a shop, or even if it were a drunk patient, I could (as I have many times) dealt with it pretty swiftly. But this was a sober, intelligent colleague who followed me around the dept' repeatedly telling me my way of life and my relationship were worth less than his.

I don't think I would have felt more attacked had he walked into my own home and pointed a disapproving finger at my family.:|

 

The fallout from all this has eaten into every part of our daily lives. Whilst I was on holiday I was responding to email after email (not because I had to, but because if I hadn't it would have only delayed the process)

Even when my partner and I agree to have a day free from talking about it, two minutes later it's apparent that we're both sat thinking about it. Friends text, phone and ask what's happening, what happened, what's the situation etc. They all mean well but this has consumed our lives every day for weeks. I just want it to go away now.

 

Work advise me that they hope to have the investigation concluded in two weeks. So after speaking to HR, Occy Health and my GP, I've now been signed off for two weeks. So at least I don't have to deal with either the work gossip or the Dr in question until then.

 

Thanks again, All.

 

I'll keep you posted...

 

SR.

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I think that's a wise move

 

Come and rant as often as you need, we're a safe non-partnery pair of ears

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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  • 1 month later...

Well, Tuesday was D Day. I had my Outcome Meeting with all the senior bods that had been conducting the investigation and had my Unison Staff Side with me.

My complaint has been upheld and they found entirely in my favour. The actions they have taken are:

 

The Dr must apologise to me in writing.

He will be Standard Set (terms unknown) for 12 months.

A report will be sent to his regulatory body.

He must attend a Diversity & Equality Awareness programme.

 

But, he will keep both his job and senior position in the department with no suspension having ever been imposed.

I have been offered redeployment to another department or hospital should I not feel I wish to work alongside him.

 

Well I thought I would feel hugely relieved at this point, but I don't. I feel completely flat. I think he should have been sent home IMMEDIATELY on day one pending investigation. But instead they left me working alongside him for two days whilst they "assessed their procedures". On day three I requested a days annual leave as he kept trying to approach me, and they told me I needed "a valid reason for short notice annual leave".

I've been signed of with "work related stress" for eight weeks now as management were unable to adjust the shift patterns so that the Dr and I would not be working together and both Occupational Health and Unison advised me to avoid being around him during this process. WHY didn't they send him home? I never would have had to endure those two HORRIBLE awkward days or these past eight weeks.

 

I've only had one phone call from my line manager, and that was to boll*ck me for not following some vague protocol regarding handing in my sick line. I could've burst into tears after that phone call.

 

I'm waiting for some more info/guidance from Unison and from HR in the interim, but at the moment, although I'm pleased about the main outcome, I'm kind of sad and lost with the whole thing. I still feel a sense of guilt (weirdly) and am so disillusioned I don't know if I want to work there anymore.

 

Sorry.. Rambling.

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Personally. I'd stay where I was knowing his kind will mess up again and if he's on a warning that'll be it.

 

I think it's a decent result for a first offence so well done you!

 

I wm sorry your manager is being a pita about the sick line

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Personally I think it is awful. You are the victim yet you are expected to move.It is easy for me to say but they need to be made an exampleof. Having said that there is some history of people taking ET action finding it difficult to get another job.

 

IMHO this only goes to show how far we have to go for equality

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Thanks everyone for your support and advice. :-) I'm going back to the GP on Tuesday (due back to work Wednesday...) and will ask to be signed off for a whiley longer to give me time to catch my breath and think carefully about what I want to do.

 

On the bright side, maybe I should be looking at the redeployment option as an opportunity to change direction. My partner has the possible option of enhanced voluntary redundancy so maybe this is a good time to think about where we really want to be.

 

Who knows. I'm going to take the time to think about it and won't be pressured into going back until I'm sure and ready.

 

I'll keep you posted.

 

Thank you again!

 

SR. x

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