CHAPTER 2: MISGUIDED
Heart Attack: Yes, after three years the day came when I was slumped over at my desk with an arrhythmia heart condition!! A staff member, had to drive me home so I could make my way back to my doctor (General Practitioner) and confront her with my condition. I had made complaints the past year of having dizzy spells and feeling exhausted but she had simply taken my blood pressure and found it normal. Better late than never, I was referred to Barts NHS, and specialists arranged for me to have surgery. I also had to go on medication and met up with specialist when my condition after my surgery, led to my having “myofascial pain syndrome”.
Glutton for punishment: Nevertheless despite surgery and sickness, I still fought my case, and by this time the CEO and HR Director had acceded so an External Investigator was called in with the agreement of Trade Union. I did my research and found that i would be “stitched up” since the Investigators were paid by HR Departments and cases showed that claimant (myself) would be found guilty and disciplined after the findings!!
“Truly I was born to be an example of misfortune, and a target at which the arrows of adversary are aimed.”Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
Court Case: Faced with an Investigation that was one-sided, I fell back on my “quasi-legal” background, since back in Nigeria I had actually shared office space with an Oxford University trained lawyer’s firm. So I ditched the Staff handbook and dug deep into understanding employment tribunal procedure rules. I found out that I could file the case myself, as a layman, so I honed my research and then prepared and filed my case.
The status quo, at the time was that I was in employment and the usual way litigation worked was that the claimant would leave the employment under claim of harassment and then file the case. But I was then made of sterner stuff, and looking the gun in the barrel, filed my case at my Office desk.
Just about this time, the External Investigation was being wound up and the findings made me culpable! Hence, it was one brief spell of euphoria when my tribunal claim was received at HR Division. I felt the after-shocks, because the Trade Union staff who had derided my case came swooning about my Office desk!. Hah, but I knew that this was now a fight to the finish and the establishment would be all-out.
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”Euripides
Showdown: A few weeks later, while recovering from the (non-invasive) heart surgery, my case was called at the Tribunal. Following procedures, I actually applied for two-days leave from the Office to go and testify against them. I simply love the English Legal System!! At this time, I had actually appealed against my Trade Union Office and they had sent my case to Trade Union National who stated my case did not deserve a lawyer but that they would send a TU Representative. On appearance, the Civil Service was represented by a team of Four, and even the Judge took askance at the demonstration of iron fist.
The Four being Barrister (Queens Counsel), Barrister (Legal 500), Department lawyer and HR Adviser. Surfeit to say that the legal wrangle would fit another chapter, but alack I had to withdraw my case at the second hearing after receiving legal consideration from the National trade Union Office. CASE CLOSED, but I was still employed, though sick and feeling effects of arthritis symptoms, so I crawled back to my Civil Service desk, and changed to part-time employment pattern.
Riding the Tiger: I had now been thrust in this downward spiral of fighting the establishment over four years and with the Court case settled, I was stuck at a corner desk and used as a trophy to show the futile result of fighting bullies. The Department followed procedure and I was kept under strict watch also reasonable adjustments were carried out due to my disability. However, the psychological damage was really tough, because by this time I was also attending counselling and close to crack-down. And then it happened cause -effect in my personal life led to a melt-down and I knew I had to get out of the Civil Service.
“Riding a Tiger and Not Being Able to Get Off ”Qí Hǔ Nán Xià
However, to resign with out benefits after the long arduous battle would have been a Pyrrhic victory, so I summoned my last efforts and played war-games with the establishment. Being more diplomatic this time and using an ally, I played a scenario to get out by establishing that I could actually start another (frivolous) court case this time claiming harassment on racial grounds. By this time the CEO and HR Director had enough, terms were agreed and Solicitor drew up a Settlement Agreement and I was paid off. The amount was basically equal to my One years salary equivalent but I was relieved to be off the back of the Tiger!!