Alan Hasson was dismissed as head of community services at Scottish Borders Council after prodding the woman following a "fraught" meeting.
Marjorie Hutton said the prod was in an intimate area and she felt it was "meant". But she added it was not done in a sexual way.
Mr Hasson, who lost his job in 2010 following a disciplinary hearing, is now taking Scottish Borders Council to an employment tribunal, claiming sex discrimination and disability discrimination.
The 54-year-old from Innerleithen, near Peebles, attended a hearing in Edinburgh at which witnesses for the council spoke about the June 2010 incident at a meeting in Hawick.
The council's head of social work, Andrew Lowe, who chaired the disciplinary hearing, said Mr Hasson had been sacked despite his "unblemished" career, adding: "I don't expect officers in the Scottish Borders to go around prodding each other. I accept that he didn't mean to cause her pain, but he did and for that I call it reckless."
Ian Davidson, an employment solicitor for the council, said Mr Hasson had suffered from depression. A GP's letter said the fact he was off medication at the time may have resulted in "uncharacteristic behaviour".
Mr Davidson said the sacked manager had objected to his dismissal on 12 grounds.
The hearing continues.