Keighley counsellor Sandra Goad, who felt she had to resign from guidance group, wins tribunal ruling

An organisation which prides itself in keeping couples together has been criticised for the way it dealt with a member of its own staff.

Relate’s treatment of Sandra Goad, of Keighley, was “manifestly unjust” and its bosses have been ordered to pay her £8,000 damages.

An employment tribunal in Leeds found that she had been unfairly dismissed from her job as a counsellor.

Miss Goad was forced to resign after 20 years with the organisation during which time she spearheaded a project to support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The tribunal heard that the issue was sparked after a client accused her of breaching confidentiality.

Following an 18-month investigation, she was exonerated but her line manager refused to inform the complainant.

Miss Goad believed her reputation and integrity as a counsellor in the Keighley area was undermined and she had no option but to resign in 2009.

The tribunal found the handling of the complaint against Miss Goad to be “manifestly unjust and pretty much indefensible on any rational basis”.

In its ruling it said it was “a clear risk to Miss Goad’s professional reputation by not correcting the original decision and communicating it to the complainant, while the complainant is free to spread this false information to whomsoever she wishes.”

After the ruling, she said: “It is a bittersweet feeling to have won this case.

“I am devastated to leave Relate, an organisation that I believe makes a positive difference to so many lives in the local area. However, I felt I had no other choice given the way my employers treated me.”

Solicitor Vanessa Wilson, who represented Miss Goad, said: “Mistakes made by management in the handling of this complaint made her position untenable.

“Having been exonerated by Relate’s investigation, I am delighted she has won her unfair dismissal claim and got the public vindication that she deserved.”

Nick Shillito, manager of Pennine, Keighley & Craven Relate, said: “We were disappointed with the ruling of the employment tribunal.

“At our centre we work hard to balance the happiness and well-being of our counsellors, who are the backbone of what we do, and our duty of care towards our clients.

“In this particular case, we had to prioritise our duty of care to the client, which is paramount to the work that we do.”

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