A worker at Scotland's national tourism board has been awarded almost £40,000 by an employment tribunal after she was sacked following a period of sick leave for depression.

Heather Aitken, a former team leader at a VisitScotland information centre in Edinburgh, was told by her bosses that she would only be allowed to return to work in a demoted position on a lower salary.

The tourism body decided she was unable to continue in her former role due to her mental health problems, however they received no medical advice confirming this.

The tribunal found VisitScotland discriminated against Ms Aitken, of Edinburgh, because of her disability and awarded her a total of £37,325.

Mental health group See Me said cases of people being discriminated against because of depression and other illnesses are "unfortunately far too common in workplaces".

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: "Fear of losing their job or other negative consequences is one of the most quoted reasons for employees not talking about their mental health problems at work.

"This can lead to people not getting the support they need and can leave them unprotected and vulnerable.

"The 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that only 19 per cent of people would tell their employer if they had a mental health problem and only 17 per cent would tell their manager.

"This indicates a high level of concern about being open about mental health within the workplace.

"We know that when people do speak out, they can experience discrimination and find themselves treated differently.

"However limiting people's opportunity to work because of their mental health can be an infringement on their human rights.

"When this is combined with the fact that sickness absence due to mental health problems costs Scottish employers £690 million per year it is clear that workplaces have a great incentive to change the way they deal with mental health."

In Ms Aitken's case, the tribunal heard that prior to going off on a long period of sickness absence in 2013, she had an agreement in place that she would not undertake staff training because she suffered from anxiety about public speaking.

However, following a change in her medication, she felt able to take on the team leader role in full when she returned to work.

A meeting was arranged to take place in October that year to discuss her return, but a written judgment on the case revealed bosses had already "agreed that Ms Aitken would not have the option to return to her role as a team leader and that she would be offered instead the visitor services adviser role".

When Ms Aitken attended the meeting she asked what the arrangements would be for her returning to her team leader role, but HR executive Alex Meikleham told her that would not be possible.

The judgment stated: "The claimant was very taken aback and felt she had been given a 'kick in the teeth'. She felt humiliated to be told she was unable to do a job she felt capable of carrying out."

She was told at that point that she had a week to decide whether or not to accept the adviser role. There were "no other alternatives on the table".

The tribunal found that she had been unfairly dismissed because her role had been taken away from her. It also ruled that she had been discriminated against because of her depression.

VisitScotland declined to comment on the case.

See me said it is currently reviewing its workplace pledge with the hope of signing up companies who want to tackle the stigma and discrimination of mental health conditions.