A ‘devastated’ care worker has told how she was sacked after filming a video of herself and three other carers dancing to Beyonce whilst dressed in PPE to cheer up their colleagues.
Michelle Cooper, 55, a care team leader, filmed the funny skit of her team dancing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies outside her home in Helston, Cornwall, to raise the spirits of her colleagues, friends and family.
The video, like many filmed by public sector workers during the covid-19 pandemic, attracted hundreds of likes and positive comments online, with many thanking the key-workers for their continued work during the crisis.
But just days later the four women were contacted by their employer, Cormac, owned by Cornwall Council, who said the video had brought ‘ill repute’ and ordered them to delete it.
Michelle Cooper (front) was left devastated after being sacked for dancing to a video of Beyonce’s Single Ladies while in uniform and PPE to cheer up colleagues during lockdown
Despite following their employer’s orders and deleting all trace of the video, just a week later all four key workers were suspended for two months as an investigation was conducted, from May to July.
Mrs Cooper, who has been a carer for 20 years and a team leader at Cormac for seven, was then sacked following a ‘horrendous’ employment hearing, while the three other women received final written warnings.
The mother-of-two, who had her son safely film the video from inside the house, said the video was posted for colleagues, friends and family, and had not broken covid-19 laws at the time as they had stayed socially distanced outside.
Mrs Cooper said: ‘The senior manager told us the video “wasn’t appropriate for the organisation” so we took it down.
‘Then we found out a week later that we were all suspended which came as a massive shock as we were told it wouldn’t go any further. They said the video would bring ill repute and damage the reputation of Cormac.
Despite following their employers orders and deleting all trace of the video just a week later all four key workers were suspended for two months, from May to July. Pictured: Mrs Cooper
All money that was raised from donations by friends and family was refunded to them, on request of Cormac, Mrs Cooper said
Mrs Cooper claims Cormac’s decision to suspend four of it’s workers during the height of the pandemic left the rest of her care team in ‘carnange’.
She told the MailOnline: ‘I don’t know what they were thinking when they suspended four key workers from the same team, it left the team who were left behind in absolute carnage.
‘We take on hospital discharges when they come back into the community, and I dare say it would have had an affect on that.’
The team leader added: ‘We did have hundreds of positive comments on the video before we deleted it. People thanking us for thinking of them and saying it had made them smile.’
Mrs Cooper said the experience has been ‘like a bad dream’, she added: ‘You’re sat there thinking what actually did I do, apart from not asking for permission’
It was hoped that the video would raise a small amount in donations from friends and family for the carers to enjoy a well deserved cream tea – all donations were later refunded on request of Cormac.
Mrs Cooper said the experience has been ‘like a bad dream’, she added: ‘You’re sat there thinking what actually did I do, apart from not asking for permission.
‘There was no evidence of us bringing the reputation of the company down. Just trying to boost morale of the team.’
She added that she was shown ‘a total lack of empathy and compassion’ during the employment hearing, which she claims didn’t take into account ‘what a care job entails’.
The carer admits that they should have asked the company for permission to shoot the video but said she was inspired by a number of videos shot by police officers, doctors and medics during the covid-19 pandemic and that she was acting with the best intentions.
Mrs Cooper said: ‘What we didn’t do is ask anybody for permission, but we wanted it to be a surprise, it didn’t feature any of the patients or anything. I still don’t understand to this day.’
In response Alison Waller, managing director of Cormac Community Care Services, told Cornwall Live: ‘Without commenting on any specific cases, as one of Cornwall’s largest employers, Corserv is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of all our employees and our communities.
‘Our social care services are helping to support the most vulnerable people across Cornwall operating under clear local and national regulation. Our company policies are in place to ensure we adhere to all regulation standards which are there to protect and guide our workforce and to protect our clients.
‘Where there is a significant breach of regulated activity we will always take the appropriate action to resolve.’