NHS worker disciplined for ‘bullying’ muslim colleague by inviting her to church sports day

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A health worker in East London has been found guilty of three cases of misconduct. Victoria Wasteney, a Christian and a senior occupational therapist working for the East London NHS Foundation Trust, was accused of ‘bullying’ a female Muslim colleague after inviting her to pray with her, by giving her a Christian book about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity and by inviting her to a sports day at her church.

The therapist had been suspended for nine months and has now had to accept a written warning and been banned from talking about her faith at work.

However, Miss Wasteney is challenging the ruling and is being supported in her claim by the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said the case demonstrated that “the NHS is increasingly dominated by a suffocating liberal agenda that chooses to bend over backwards to accommodate certain beliefs but punishes the Christian”.

Miss Wasteney added: “I believe in tolerance for everyone and that is why I am challenging what has happened to me,”

The young Muslim woman was a newly qualified occupational therapist in a team managed by Miss Wasteney. Miss Wasteney said she invited the colleague to several church events but thought little of it. Then when the young woman was due to go to hospital, she gave her a book called ‘I Dare To Call Him Father’, that was about a Muslim woman converting to Christianity. However, Miss Wasteney claimed not to have read the book and that it “was not an attempt to convert her to Christianity”.

On a further occasion, the woman apparently came to Miss Wasteney’s office in tears, upset about her health problems and so the manager invited them to pray together.

But in June last year, Miss Wasteney was told that complaints had been made about bullying and harassment. A disciplinary hearing at work found her guilty of the three charges of misconduct.

A spokesman for East London NHS Foundation Trust said it did not comment on individual cases.

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10 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I would ask that people of ALL faiths leave their beliefs at home when they come to work. Most of us are not remotely interested in what you choose to believe in, and the workplace is not the place to be discussing such things. So please respect my beliefs by leaving yours in the appropriate place – at home.

  2. Look at the timetable; 12 months to deal with the complaint including suspension for 9 months. That’s consistent with my experience of the snails pace at which NHS disciplinary and grievance cases proceed. Haven’t they read ACAS Code of Practice 1, paragraphs 4 & 8?

  3. The best way to deal with offense and conflict is to go directly to the person who has wronged you. If this doesn’t work, bring in another person to mediate. Lastly, take it to court. Sounds as though this matter went straight to step 3, as Miss Wasteney appears to have not been clued in earlier that her kindness was a problem to her colleague (and I say kindness, because, if you are of a faith or any kind of motivating belief that you believe is the right way, could it not potentially be the kindest thing to let other people know about it through invitation?)

  4. Got to question anyone working within the medical profession’s who have certain ‘beliefs’.

  5. Was it the muslim woman that complain? What happens to freedom of expression? Would it be a crime for a democrat to attempt to convince a republican to vote for Democratic Party? Did Christian woman use any force or threat?

  6. I am unclear why the story has put the word ‘bullying’ in inverted commas. This was a case of bullying, and that was the finding of the employer. To use the device of inverted commas is to imply that the word had been used inappropriately, it is something that some of the gutter press do to imply political correctness. If you are found guilty of stealing things it is theft, if you are found guilty of being a bully it is bullying not ‘bullying’.

  7. I suggest that this Christian therapist immediately contacts The Christian Institute. This organisation has fully qualified lawyers who take up the cases of Christians in situations like this and defend them in court FREE OF CHARGE. They will give her every emotional and legal help. It will cost her nothing. We used to live in a free country but sadly Christians are no longer free to express their beliefs.

  8. An absolute farce, typical of the NHS HR – usually some bloated directorate where the diversity brigade encourage people to take offence. Free speech, democracy – not if you are a British born Christian of any colour. PC gone mad, but I have seen this across public sector.

  9. Clearly, personal beliefs and opinions don’t have a place in the workplace anymore, and I think that as a society we have to accept that…not because we can’t change it, but simply becaue HR legislation won’t allow us to forget it. Nevertheless, there are a couple of points about this case to note. Firstly, when you manage someone you focus simply upon the workplace, the objective outcomes of that workplace, and the competencies and abilities of the workforce therein. Secondly, our Christian manager has overstepped the mark by using her religion as a way to try and resolve workplace problems for her employees….totally uancceptable. Finally, as manager she would have known from the recruitment process documents i.e. Equal Opps monitoring tha the employee was of a particular denomination, and her actions in trying to impose christianity in each case is a clear imposition on the Muslim faith and tradition. My experience of the NHS is also negative, but I feel their Equality and Diversity policies are clear enough.

  10. Out of interest did the Muslim lady wear any clothing suggestive of HER faith? If so surely she took her religion into her workplace. I have no problem with that but surely “Sauce for the Goose?”

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