London, Feb 5 (ANI): A British nurse, who was fired for making a saucy joke as she helped to restrain a patient having an epileptic fit, has been found to have been unfairly dismissed by the Appeal Court.
Laura Bowater, 34, had been sitting on the ankles of the 31-year-old patient, whose pants had been removed so doctors could inject his buttock, to control his flailing legs.
The man, who was "extremely strong", managed to flip on to his back, exposing himself and kicking Bowater forward so that she ended up astride him.
Finding herself straddling his naked body, as doctors tried to give him an injection, she said, "It's been a few months since I have been in this position with a man underneath me".A complaint was made six weeks later even though no one suggested the unconscious patient could have heard what Bowater said.
She was fired from her 25,000-pounds-a-year post for gross misconduct over the quip despite four years' unblemished service.
A panel at Watford Employment Tribunal upheld her unfair dismissal claim but North West London Hospitals NHS Trust successfully challenged it at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Burnton has now overturned that decision but ruled that the nurse "contributed" 25 percent to her own dismissal.
The case will return to the original employment tribunal for Bowater's unfair dismissal payment to be decided.
"This is insane. Why has she lost her job? She made a joke as her way of having to deal with a stressful situation," the Daily Mail quoted Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries, a former nurse, as saying.
"She perhaps could have been given some kind of warning. There are ways of dealing with it and sacking her was not the correct way.
"It's difficult enough trying to recruit and retain nurses at the moment," she added. (ANI)