Tort Law problem question (UK)

Tort Law problem question (UK)

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Stefania is employed in an administrative capacity in a small team in a local government legal department. Since her first day at work she has never really got on with her immediate line-manager, Trish. Stefania has always felt that Trish has tended to exclude her from discussions and decisions. For example, Stefania claims that Trish always turns her back on her when having conversations with other colleagues; and such conversations are always held in “hushed tones”. By contrast, when talking to Stefania, Trish does not lower her voice or turn her back on others. In addition, Trish always finds little jobs towards the end of the working day which she insists that Stefania carry out before leaving work. The net result is that Stefania regularly works at least 30 minutes beyond her normal 5 pm finish time. When she eventually does leave work, Trish “stares at her in a menacing way”, and never says goodbye.

After three months Stefania wrote a letter of complaint to Trish’s boss explaining her concerns. Trish read a copy of the letter out loud in front of the rest of the team and then promptly tore the letter up and threw it on the floor. She then explained that if Stefania had looked a little more carefully at her contract then she would have noticed a term stating that she was required to work longer hours where her employer made a reasonable request to do so. Trish added that she was not surprised that Stefania hadn’t read the fine print of her contract given that her attention to detail was so terrible. To Stefania’s dismay, the rest of the team laughed at Trish’s quick wit. Trish then demanded that Stefania pick up the pieces of torn paper scattered about the office. Later that day, when alone, Trish walked up to Stefania by the water cooler and in a menacing tone said to Stefania that if she ever wrote another letter of complaint, she “had better think twice because I know where you live.”

Advise Stefania who has become very anxious about the prospect of going to work (students are reminded to answer this question from the perspective of LW315 Introduction to Obligations and to concentrate on any potential Common Law or statutory claims in Tort).

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