A former aide to Priti Patel received a £25,000 payout after claiming she was bullied by the minister, the BBC has reported.
The broadcaster said it had seen legal correspondence claiming the woman had taken an overdose following the alleged incident in 2015, when Patel was employment minister.
The claim comes amid the growing row over a senior Home Office civil servant levelling allegations of bullying against Patel over her time as home secretary. The allegations are now being investigated by the cabinet secretary as possible breaches of the ministerial code.
In the latest report, the BBC said a junior employee at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) brought a complaint of bullying and harassment against the department after being dismissed in October 2015.
The DWP did not admit liability and settled the case in 2017, meaning there was no employment tribunal. By that time, Patel had been promoted to international development secretary, a post she was sacked from later that year.
The report claimed the woman was shouted at, told to get lost and dismissed from her job in the minister’s private office because Patel “doesn’t like your face”, according to the legal correspondence.
Labour leadership hopeful Keir Starmer described the allegations as “incredibly serious”.
He tweeted: “I welcome the announcement that the Cabinet Secretary will be holding an inquiry into the Home Secretary’s conduct. However, we need assurances that this inquiry will cover Priti Patel’s entire career as a minister.”
The BBC said it last week asked about a complaint against Patel during her time at the DWP, and a source close to her said she was “unaware of any complaint being made”.
A spokesperson for the government told the BBC: “All ministers are subject to the ministerial code. We do not comment on individual personnel matters.”
The revelation comes after Boris Johnson asked the Cabinet Office to “establish the facts” following allegations that Patel has breached the ministerial code.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove confirmed the action being taken following an urgent question from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In a statement on Saturday, Sir Philip Rutnam said he quit as Home Office permanent secretary after “tension” developed in his relationship with Patel after he challenged her over her behaviour.
He said staff had told him that Patel had been “shouting and swearing, belittling people (and) making unreasonable demands”.
Quitting the civil service after 33 years, he accused Patel of lying about her part in a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him, and denied counter-briefing against the home secretary.
On Thursday, HuffPost UK revealed that home secretary Priti Patel had wanted to move Andy Tighe, one of her most senior officials, out of the department on Christmas Eve and asked Rutman to deliver the news.
Rutnam refused to do so, believing it too cruel to effectively sack his colleague on Christmas Eve, HuffPost UK understands.
Rutnam’s refusal to carry out Patel’s orders is said to be one of the factors that has led to a breakdown in their relationship.
Relations between the pair were said to have deteriorated to such a level that Patel has blacklisted her permanent secretary’s staff and is cutting them out of regular day-to-day meetings.
Prior to Rutnam’s resignations there had been reports that Patel had demanded his removal.