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Complaints of harassment and abuse at Sellafield were ignored by management, HR consultant says

COMPLAINTS of “vile” homophobic abuse, bullying and harassment by staff at nuclear site Sellafield were ignored by the management, a former HR consultant has said.

Alison McDermott, who was contracted at the site in Seascale, Cumbria, in September 2018, said that reports of “appalling” harassment based on sexual orientation were not formally investigated.

Ms McDermott has taken Sellafield, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and HR director Heather Roberts to an employment tribunal after her contract was terminated when she blew the whistle on allegations of workplace harassment.

On Thursday, she told the hearing that when she first met Ms Roberts to discuss an equality report, the director told her: “I hope you’re not going to tell me we’re going to start letting women in burkas in here.”

Ms McDermott told the tribunal that she had meetings with two employees who encountered homophobic abuse, adding: “I thought the comments were so vile and so concerning that I thought if the company doesn’t take action on this, what will it take action on.”

She also said there had been “massive inequality of arms” throughout the employment tribunal process and for much of the time she had not been legally represented.

Unite lead officer for Sellafield Malcolm Carruthers said that while it would be inappropriate to comment on a current employment tribunal case, “Unite continues to work closely with management to ensure the eradication of any bullying on the Sellafield site.

“We would encourage anyone who feels they are being subjected to bullying and/or harassment to immediately contact their shop steward for assistance. We will never stand by and allow such behaviour to flourish in any workplace.”

The tribunal is expected to last three weeks.

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