A woman claimed today she was persecuted by her boss because of her “happy clappy” religious views.
Beverley Emerson, from Ballygowan, Co Down, who worked in the Central Statistics Unit at Lisnasharragh Police Station, is claiming religious and sex discrimination against chief statistician, Richard Erskine.
Mrs Emerson claimed Mr Erskine stormed into the office and ranted about how she was undermining management and added that for someone who professed to have strong religious views, her behaviour was unchristian.
At the time of the incident she was discussing Christmas leave with some of her office colleagues.
She claimed Mr Erskine then slammed the door behind him leaving her in a distraught state.
She told a Fair Employment Tribunal in Belfast: “Obviously he was saying that something I was doing was unchristian but nothing had ever been brought to my attention.
“I am a Pentecostal. I believe in speaking in tongues and gifts of the spirit. People were aware of my ‘happy clappy’ religious beliefs.”
She said her boss had more traditional beliefs. “I would assume that he was telling me that some of my behaviour didn’t reach the standard of what he professed a Christian to be.
“I honestly didn’t know what part of my behaviour wasn’t Christian.”
The incident in the office took place in October 2001 and Mrs Emerson did not return to work until August 2002 when she was transferred to another unit.
The tribunal was told that Mrs Emerson had a history of depression which worsened after Mr Erskine’s alleged outburst.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr James Anderson said she suffered from a mild form of clinical depression afterwards.
“Prior to this event she was reasonably well. It is clear that this episode shook her and caused her a great deal of distress and in my opinion led to this subsequent illness.”
Mr Erskine’s barrister Johnny Dunlop denied that his client had launched a tirade of abuse at Mrs Emerson.
He said: “Mr Erskine said he was fed up with you undermining management in the section and told you it was to stop.”
He added that Mr Erskine had told her: “For someone to make such an issue of your Christian profession, it is unfortunate that your recent behaviour hasn’t been more consistent with that profession.”
The case continues.