Power-lifter given £170,000 settlement after care home battle
PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 June 2013
A FORMER international power-lifter has agreed an £170,000 out-of-court settlement after being 'bullied' out of her job at a Weston care home.
Jennifer Nicoll ended a five-year battle with AbbeyCare after agreeing to settle over her claim for lost wages and legal costs.
The mother-of-three had an employment tribunal side in her favour in 2011 after claiming she was pushed out of her job by her bosses’ behaviour at Gough House, in Ellenborough Park North.
Ever since she has pursued AbbeyCare to reimburse her for the financial losses she incurred but admits she is only ‘half the person’ she was before her battles.
She said: “They have blackened my name and assassinated my character. They are meant to be a Christian organisation. It’s shocking really.”
Ms Nicoll missed her shift in September 2008 to take part in the Midnight Beach Walk, believing she had arranged cover.
Despite it being agreed it was a ‘misunderstanding’, she was handed a formal warning and suspended for 10 days. When she requested the opportunity to voice her grievances or be transferred to another care home, she was ignored.
The 46-year-old was signed off with stress from work and took the decision to resign, having taken advice from doctors and her union.
The employment tribunal in 2011 awarded her £1,572.50 but she had to pay AbbeyCare £250 for preparation time costs, and Ms Nicoll felt those responsible had not been held to account. This month’s out-of-court settlement will see her receive £80,000 compensation, £60,000 towards her legal costs and the rest will pay back the benefits she gained.
The money will be used to help pay back family members who paid off Ms Nicoll’s mortgage while she was unable to work.
She said: “This was never a money issue, just the principle of it. I didn’t think it would last for five years.”
The battle has shattered her confidence to the extent she struggles to go out during daylight hours. However, she hopes her extensive counselling sessions will help her recover and allow her to compete for Great Britain in power-lifting again.
Ms Nicoll, of Brompton Road, said: “I risked losing my house. I could have lost everything, I have already lost my new sports massage business.
“I represented my country but I have lost what that means at the moment because I don’t have the confidence. At the moment I am having private counselling sessions.
“If I didn’t get bullied I would have a thriving business by now and I used to do voluntary work in Weston but have had to give that up too.”
An AbbeyCare spokesman said: “AbbeyCare is non-profit making and all funds raised are used for the everyday care of these vulnerable people. Faced with the astronomical costs of defending a case in court AbbeyCare decided it could not risk its funds, which are all used to facilitate or improve care, by going to court.
“Therefore it settled a sum which included all the accrued legal costs and reimbursement of recoverable benefits to the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as a smaller sum within the overall settlement to Ms Nicoll.”