Back to Legal Industry News

University Taken to Court Over Bullying Allegations

University Taken to Court Over Bullying Allegations

A college at the University of Oxford is being taken to Court by a former member of staff because of what she describes as a "culture of bullying".

The accusations relate to a number of incidents that took place in relation to personnel leaving their posts at Kellogg College, reports the Oxford Mail.

Catriona Carter Jonas was employed by the college as an events coordinator, but claims she is entitled to damages from the institution because of unfair dismissal and wages she is owed up to the time of her departure.

As well as being accused of discriminating against Ms Jonas because of age, a college bursar is also alleged to have used aggressive behaviour when interacting with colleagues.

During a visit from Roman Catholic priest Robin Gibbons, the Court heard that he was forcefully ejected from an office and had a door slammed in his face by Donna Lipsky.

The allegations came to light following testimony made by Keith Fraser, who worked as an interim bursar from January 2012, but was sacked just six weeks after taking up the position.

He claims that he was dismissed because he showed resistance to the "culture" and stood up to other members of staff when they were seen to be exhibiting over-zealous or threatening behaviour.

Ms Carter Jonas told the Court that her superiors had increased her workload by around "80 per cent" and that she had been instructed not to ask any colleagues for help.

According to Mr Fraser, he also heard Ms Lipsky and another former bursar describing Ms Carter Jonas as a "wrinkly old bag", before stating "we need someone cheaper, younger and stronger".

The 53-year-old worked at Kellogg College for six years, but resigned in March last year after being off work for eight months because of illness.

Alice Carse, the legal expert representing the college, made the claim that Mr Fraser was only pursuing his version of events because he was unhappy at not being offered Ms Lipsky's permanent bursar's job, while she also dismissed the accusations made by Ms Carter Jonas as "making something out of nothing".

By Francesca Witney