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Male nurse told to ‘man up’ in front of room full of women by boss wins sex discrimination case

The only male member of an NHS The team of health visitors have won a sex discrimination case after their boss told them to ‘man up’ in front of a room full of women.

Senior manager Lisa Sanchez deliberately excluded Pete Marsh when she said “bye ladies” as she left a meeting because of “growing excitement” towards him, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Mr Marsh, who has worked in the health service for more than 20 years, said he had grown tired of being the “butt of jokes” about being the only man on the team.

The court ruled that this culture had been tolerated by bosses, including the head of service, Mrs Sanchez, who joined the statements.

Now, after his internal bullying complaints were rejected, Mr Marsh has successfully sued the NHS for sex discrimination and is in line for compensation.

The hearing was told the qualified nurse had been working for the NHS since 2002 and started as a student health visitor with Manchester University NHS Trust in January 2013.

He later qualified and at the time of the discrimination was a member of the Cheetham and Crumpsall team, the court heard.

Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Headquarters (stock image)

In May 2016 he became an accredited trade union representative for the Unite workplace.

Two years later he was involved in an altercation with a team nurse who had ignored his pleas for help.

This led to her making a complaint about him which led to mediation between the couple.

Manchester Crown Court heard that this mediation was carried out by Ms Sanchez and Mr Marsh felt she had sided with the nursery worker against him and emailed her afterwards to express their dissatisfaction.

This was “irritating”, Ms Sánchez heard.

At a staff meeting soon after to discuss a plan to increase the clinics’ workload without increasing time, the audience was told that Ms. Sanchez demanded in an “aggressive and confrontational” style which staff were members of “Pete’s Union.”

“The court found Ms. Sanchez’s approach to be intentionally divisive and intimidating,” the panel said. “The implication was that staff had to be seen as either Pete’s Union or not, and it became a matter of taking sides.”

Mr Marsh claimed that at a meeting in July 2018, Ms Sanchez greeted all female staff by name when entering and said: “Bye ladies” when leaving, completely ignoring him.

In February 2019, the court heard, a team meeting where concerns about poor staff morale were raised descended into a heated row between Ms Sanchez and Mr Marsh.

Mr Marsh was the only man in the room with ten female colleagues, the panel heard.

“The atmosphere at the meeting became tense,” the audience was told. “There was a five-minute break after which the argument got out of hand, with most of the team members involved.

‘[Mr Marsh] he complained about being blank. Ms. Sanchez stated that the team’s behavior was “childish” and needed to stop and that the team needed to adopt a professional demeanor and respect the values ​​of the trust.

“Ms. Sanchez also said that people could only speak when they were spoken to. [Mr Marsh] objected to this and left the meeting, saying that Ms. Sánchez had to resolve himself.

In response, said Mrs. Sanchez [him]”you have to be a man”.

“The court found that her remark was made in the middle of the moment and was unprofessional. Ms. Sanchez lost her cool and should have closed the meeting instead of attacking [Mr Marsh] verbally as she did.

The court was told that Marsh complained about how Ms. Sánchez had spoken to him at the meeting.

‘[He] he said he felt intimidated by Ms. Sanchez. He also said that, as a single man in the workplace, he felt he suffered a lot of abuse that he would like to challenge but didn’t, but drew the line when he was told he could only speak when told to. was talking,’ he said.

The court heard that although Ms. Sanchez admitted he regretted the comment, he had never apologized for it.

Marsh left the job under stress and filed a Dignity at Work complaint in May about harassment and bullying by several employees, including Ms. Sanchez

The court heard the Trust launched a “grossly ineffective” investigation into the health visiting team which ultimately dismissed Mr Marsh’s concerns and concluded the entire team needed to develop “emotional resilience”.

In November 2019, Mr Marsh moved to a different health visiting team and in April 2020 brought legal proceedings against his employers, alleging sex discrimination, trade union prejudice and disability discrimination.

The tribunal, chaired by Employment Judge Marion Batten, ruled that Mr Marsh had been discriminated against.

‘The court agreed [his] evidence that he had often been the subject of jokes or comments about being the only man on the team or about his sex.

“She gave evidence that these comments were sometimes innocuous, but she had grown tired of them and was sometimes irritated by the fact that her gender was highlighted unnecessarily.

‘The court considered that this culture and approach [Mr Marsh] was tolerated by his immediate management who took no steps to deter [his] It has been shown that his colleagues and Ms. Sánchez have participated in this comment”.

The “man up” remark was not only unprofessional but was “less favorable treatment” because of Mr Marsh’s sex, the panel found.

Of the ‘Goodbye ladies’ greeting, the court said: ‘It may be a thoughtless comment at best, but for a senior and experienced NHS manager, the court would expect better.

“In the context of the development of Mrs. Sánchez’s animation towards [Mr Marsh]the court found that he was well aware of its presence at the time of his comment.

“In these circumstances, the court found, on the balance of probabilities, that Ms Sanchez had said ‘Ladies’ and that it was deliberate.

“In reaching this conclusion, the court took into account that the incident occurred after mediation, which Ms. Sanchez believed had gone well. However, [Mr Marsh] I didn’t agree.

“He became unhappy and had complained, which irritated Mrs. Sanchez. She took action [Mr Marsh’s detriment] and he treated him less favorably because of his gender, excluding him for his remark in leaving.

Marsh was also discriminated against by female colleagues who made false allegations against him.

Ms Sanchez was also found to have treated her unfairly in relation to her role with Unite by asking the ‘Pete’s Union’ question, the tribunal found.

His claim for disability, however, was dismissed. Mr Marsh’s compensation will be decided at a later hearing.


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