An NHS medic who refused to get a Covid jab has won a discrimination case after her boss called her an ‘anti-vaxxer’.

Senior sonographer Gail Lauder caused tension among her colleagues who “reacted negatively” to her position, especially when she discussed this with patients, one employment opportunities court heard.

Lauder’s views on the vaccine raised concerns among her colleagues and teamCredit: PA

The experienced sonographer said she had refused to be vaccinated because she had suffered from allergic reactions in the past and was “very careful” about the medicines she was taking.

Due to her allergies, she also said she couldn’t wear the dress medical figure masks her Hopital required staff to wear during the pandemic.

Her position – and her objection to being told to keep quiet about it – led to bosses labeling her an ‘anti-vaxxer’, a label the tribunal described as ‘unfavorable treatment’.

The panel – chaired by employment judge Sandy Meiklejohn – said: “It was based on the stereotypical view that someone who has not been vaccinated against Covid must be an ‘anti-vaxxer’.

“We found that this was obviously undesirable behavior. It was related to (her) observed behavior.

“We accepted (Ms Lauder’s evidence) that her decision not to be vaccinated was a personal decision based on her medical history. She was not against vaccination in general.”

The sonographer is now eligible for compensation after successfully suing Tayside Health To get in Scotland for discrimination and harassment by disabled people.

The hearing in Dundee was told that Ms Lauder started working for the organisation health service inside the city as a radiographer in 2003 and qualified as a sonographer about five years later.

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At the time of the pandemic, she was a clinical specialist sonographer at the trust, which is based in Ninewells Hopital.

The tribunal was told this was due to her allergies – which the health board accepted amounted to a disability – Ms Lauder “is aware of substances and products, both specific and general, that trigger such a reaction”.

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‘She’s very careful about what drugs and medications she is taking,” the panel was told.

In October 2020, she complained about the surgical face mask she was forced to wear work caused her to experience “coughing and irritation in her nose, mouth, throat and eyes.”

The tribunal heard she opted to wear a cloth mask instead and after informing bosses she was relieved from clinical duties involving patients in January 2021.

In a subsequent meeting with chief sonographer Margaret Taylor, the issue of Ms. Lauder’s treatment by colleagues was raised.

The panel was told: “(She) had decided not to be vaccinated.

“Her colleagues were aware of this and reacted negatively. Ms. Taylor discouraged (Ms. Lauder) from discussing the matter with her colleagues.”

The hearing was told that Ms Lauder started working from home later that month after the hospital could not find a suitable face mask for her.

In her annual review in February, Ms Taylor said she had received reports that “some assistants were concerned that Gail was telling patients she chose not to get the vaccine”.

She continued: ‘I was suggesting that whilst Gail clearly thinks this is a fairly benign statement, it may not be helpful to say such things to patients as it seems a bit at odds with the push for public health vaccination programmes.’

“Gail felt she should be given a voice and I agreed, but she is contracted to work for the NHS and her views do not reflect NHS and public health.”

In June 2021, the sonographer began a period of sick leave due to stress and in November he was admitted to hospital with a serious case of Covid.

In February 2022, during her next conversation with Ms Taylor, the issue of her position on vaccines came up again.

Regarding her position, Ms. Lauder said: “I use a variety of personal strategies to ensure my respect and appreciation for others’ differences, which I believe are not always reciprocated.

“While I fully understand that being a minority can provoke bigotry in others, I certainly do not agree that silence is preferable for minorities in general.

“However, in the future, I plan to consciously depersonalize my work in an effort to avoid any potential unrest. I look forward to seeing how this issue of tolerance, respect and kindness will be addressed within the team as a whole.”

Ms Taylor said: “It is important that as a team we have tolerance and respect for each other and accept different values ​​and beliefs.

“This has created an undercurrent of anxiety within the team as a whole and we must all try to be more aware of this as a team in the future.”

The tribunal found there was a “degree of tension” between Ms Taylor and Ms Lauder.

“(Ms Lauder) invoked her right to speak out, while Ms Taylor suggested that in doing so she had created or at least contributed to the ‘unrest’,” the panel said.

“Ms. Taylor told us that (Ms. Lauder) had a ‘very binary view.’ Her view was not the problem, but the way she expressed that view was not helpful.”

In October 2022, after a series of disputes with bosses over her vaccination status, sick leave and possible return to work, Ms. Lauder filed a complaint about her treatment.

The tribunal heard that as part of the investigation into her complaint, imaging manager Michael Conroy gave evidence in which he said: ‘Gail has different views on Covid and is an anti-vaxxer, occasionally telling patients not to wear masks had to wear. causing colleagues to be in need.”

Ms. Lauder resigned in November 2022 before the complaint was finalized, claiming she was the victim of harassment.

She took the health board to the tribunal claiming constructive and unfair dismissal – which the panel rejected – disability discrimination and harassment.

While claiming there was no connection, the tribunal found that Mr Conroy’s ‘anti-vaxxer’ comment was linked to Ms Lauder’s inability to wear a mask and was therefore discriminatory.

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Her compensation will be decided at a later date.

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “We are currently taking time to review the full written judgment.”