A social worker has been awarded £28,000 after an employment tribunal found she was discriminated against by council officials over her Lithuanian nationality.

Sandra Stanyte was treated "almost like a criminal" by Edinburgh City Council bosses because she accepted a job while awaiting accreditation to the organisation that regulates social workers.

She was open and transparent about this and the local authority was aware of the situation when she was given the job.

Ms Stanyte was described as a successful professional who had worked internationally and travelled to a new country to advance her career. 

She qualified as a social worker in Lithuania, had obtained Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees and had extensive experience of practicing as a social worker in her home country.

Prior to her employment with Edinburgh City Council, she had worked in Northern Ireland as a social worker for nine years.

The hearing was told she first contacted the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) in 2020 with a view to obtaining employment as a social worker in Scotland but did not pursue the matter due to the pandemic.

She applied for a job with the council in July 2021 and received a conditional offer after being interviewed.

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In October a Ms Pollock from the SSSC emailed the claimant to ask if she wished to proceed with her application.

She replied saying she had a conditional offer for a job and asked what documents they required to progress it.

The hearing was told she was given no indication from Ms Pollock that she could not work as a social worker while the application was being progressed.

She was given an unconditional offer of employment by the council on October 8 after PVG checks were carried out.

Mr Cross, who had chaired the interview panel, said he was told by the SSSC that she had 12 months from starting the job to gain her accreditation as she was already registered in the UK.

The claimant made arrangements to move to Scotland and her first day of work was January 5.

The hearing was told that she repeatedly contacted the SSSC to check on the progress of her application as she was concerned about the delay.

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She was later sent an email apologising for "misleading information" which stated that she should not have obtained employment until the registration is complete.

On learning this Ms Fuller, who was the acting senior manager, instructed that she was immediately moved to another team.

She considered phoning the police and wrote a letter to the social worker saying she was to be investigated for gross misconduct, theft and fraud - without giving any details of the claims made.

The tribunal concluded that the reason Ms Fuller subjected the claimant to a disciplinary investigation was "because she was Lithuanian."

Employment judge Amanda Jones said: "It seemed to the Tribunal as incredible that Ms Fuller would have acted in a similar manner towards a Scottish social worker with the experience of the claimant where an issue with that person’s registration arose and where they were provided with an explanation as to how that had arisen."

"The Tribunal concluded that Ms Fuller displayed a mindset towards the claimant where it appeared that she did not believe what she was being told and that this mindset was on the basis of the claimant’s nationality."

The written judgement added: "The claimant was treated almost like a criminal by the respondent."