Football secretary sues Hearts for sexual discrimination

0
41

Louise Mackenzie leaving the employment tribunal

By Cara Sulieman

A KEY member of backroom staff at Hearts FC told an employment tribunal today (Mon) that she was “very upset” after having the terms of her contract changed when she came back from maternity leave.

Louise Mackenzie has been the football secretary for the premiere league club since 2001, and went on maternity leave in January 2008.

When she returned on a part-time basis in September 2008, she discovered that she would no longer be working every home match day at Tynecastle.

Previously in her full time position this had been the case.

The 34-year-old told the tribunal – led by Employment Judge Susan Craig – that she had asked to come back on a part time basis after the birth of her son, working Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

No longer work match days

But there was some confusion over the cover of match days at Tynecastle.

Just five days before her original return to work date Mrs Mackenzie was informed by Mary McKissack, the head of human resources, that she would no longer be working Saturdays.

Mrs Mackenzie, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, told the tribunal: “It was put to me in Mary McKissack’s letter of August 20 that I will no longer be required to work any more Saturdays unless asked to as part of a rota system.

“It was custom and practice that I was entitled to work match days, it was implied in my contract.

“When I asked to come back part time I had never stated that I couldn’t work match days, it was just the Wednesday and Thursday that I wanted off.

“I work all match days as I have done for the past seven years.”

Through a formal grievance procedure that Mrs Mackenzie raised, she thought that the situation had been resolved.

When she returned to her position at Hearts, she continued to work home match days as she had done before her maternity leave.

“Shocked”

It wasn’t until May 2009 that the problem was raised again.

Mrs Mackenzie explained: “I had been on sick leave and Anatoliy Korobochka called to inform me that someone else would be working the home match on May 7. I thought this was fair enough as they had to plan ahead.

“I returned from sick leave on May 5 and assumed I would be working the next home match day on May 16.

“I submitted the overtime sheet for the upcoming match in advance and it was never returned to me so I just thought it was assumed I was working.

“When I spoke to them on Friday 15, that was when I was informed that another member of staff had been asked to work May 16.

“I was quite shocked because I had expected to work. I wasn’t very happy with the situation. I felt something wasn’t right.

“But it was the last game of the season and I thought I would wait and see what happened in the next set of games.

“I then got an email from Mary McKissack stating that Louise Clark will work match days as part of her core hours instead of extra hours. I then raised a formal written grievance.

“I wasn’t happy that I had not been consulted. I felt I was unfairly being discriminated against.”

Sexual discrimination

Louise Clark – who is currently also a football secretary at the club – told the tribunal that she had been offered the match days as part of her contract in June 2009.

She said: “The position offered was to work a certain amount of contracted hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and away match days and home match days from the Academy.

“Those were to be my contracted hours.”

Mrs Mackenzie is suing the club for sexual discrimination.

She works for the side mainly from its offices at their Riccarton training HQ on the outskirts of Edinburgh in the grounds of Heriot-Watt University.

The centre of excellence is the hub of all the SPL club’s off field footballing activity including training, housing team management offices, treatment areas and indoor playing areas.

Her role involves ensuring that all members of the football department – including manager, coaching staff, players and support staff – all know where they are supposed to be at any given time.

The tribunal will continue tomorrow (Tues).

NO COMMENTS