A ONE-time administrator for Lancashire's army cadets HQ has won a harassment claim over claims she ignored colleagues because she had a hearing problem.

Gail Briggs had been taken on by the North West of England and Isle of Man Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, based at Holcombe Moor, near Ramsbottom, after a surge in recruitment.

She was considered to have "a very pleasing personality" and was said to have fit well into the team there, an employment tribunal heard.

Initially taken on as an agency worker, she was eventually given the role of team administrator, the hearing was told.

Because of a hearing impairment she was also issued with a specialist microphone and transmitter, to assist while making telephone calls.

Relations broke down between Miss Briggs and her colleagues over time though, leading her to lodge a formal grievance, alleging she was being given the cold shoulder, refusing to take her phone calls and ignoring her, as well as laughing at her attempts to answer the phone using her equipment.

Col Alex Barnes, who conducted the inquiry, said her colleagues denied excluding her and suggested that, on occasion, she may not have heard them.

But he commented further, saying: "They also said 'the disability may have been used not to communicate when she wanted to'."

Employment tribunal judge Kenderik Horne said the colonel suggested this was the view of all staff - though evidence showed it was just the opinion of one witness.

Judge Horne, sitting with two lay members, ruled this approach, and the witness' original comments, equated to harassment.

He added: "We recognise that it is an important part of many disabled people's dignity and self-esteem that they can overcome their barriers that disability can cause in the workplace and participate in working life."

But the three-strong panel dismissed a number of disability discrimination claims, covering the alleged snubs and one suggestion a colleague had made "ghost noises" into her microphone transmitter.

The cadets association, responsible for 1,200 cadets and 250 adult leaders, is facing a compensation payout, which will be determined by a further hearing unless the parties can reach agreement on a settlement.