An employment tribunal judge is being investigated for allegedly making a comment about suicide to a woman whose son had just taken his own life.
Catherine Matheson of Forfar has lodged a formal complaint about the conduct of Chris Lucas during a long-running hearing in Dundee.
Mrs Matheson, 56, lost her unfair dismissal case against Dundee College, where she was a lecturer in communications.
The tribunal also ruled out her plea that the college had discriminated against her by choosing her for redundancy because of her circumstances, which included being the carer for her 10-year-old disabled grandson.
The boy’s father David Gordon, 35, suffered from mental health problems and on November 6 last year Mrs Matheson, after a day at the tribunal, went home to find he had hanged himself.
She asked Mr Lucas to sist (halt) the proceedings to allow her to have counselling to cope with the trauma of her distressing discovery, and her request was granted.
When the case resumed in September this year Mrs Matheson, representing herself, asked her line manager a question about her selection for redundancy, when, she said, Mr Lucas intervened.
Her formal letter of complaint states: “I was completely shocked when Judge Lucas said: ‘The college would be putting their heads in a noose if they answered that’, despite knowing that my son had hanged himself.”
Mrs Matheson asked the judge to clarify the remark and she alleged he repeated it.
This left her so upset that she had to leave the room and she was too distressed to return that day.
She said the episode affected her confidence and composure for the remainder of the hearing.
A spokesman for the judicial office of the Employment Tribunal Service said: “We can’t comment on the substance of the complaint, other than to confirm that it has been received and will be considered in due course.”
He added that Mr Lucas would not comment, stating: “It wouldn’t be appropriate while the complaint is being considered.”
In his judgment of the case, Mr Lucas said there was no evidence that Mrs Matheson’s inclusion in the pool of staff considered for redundancy was anything to do with her grandchild’s disability.
The tribunal considered she had been treated objectively in a scoring scheme used to determine her selection and the scheme had not been unfairly applied.
Mrs Matheson is considering an appeal.