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Case Study: Acting for a Director with a Disability Discrimination and Constructive Dismissal Claim

Employment Law

How Laura Donnelly, Employment Law Solicitor based in our Croydon office, represented a company director in a complex constructive dismissal and disability discrimination claim.

The Situation

Angela worked as Finance, Operations and HR Director for the UK subsidiary of an international engineering company.

Since joining the company in 2011 her role had grown to include responsibility for several additional areas of the business so that she had an excessive workload.

Angela suffered from a long term skin condition which was exacerbated by stress and exhaustion. Her health worsened and she developed recurrent Cellulitis, a serious skin infection which causes a painful rash and fever like systems including increased heart rate with a risk of sepsis.

Due to ill health she was forced to take several periods of sickness absence. She noticed a negative change in attitude towards her from the Managing Director, Phil, whom she had previously had a close working relationship with. He began to exclude her from business decisions and undermine her main finance duties.

Angela also witnessed Phil making racist comments and refusing to recruit people of a particular ethnic origin. She also encountered sexist comments from male Board members.

In order to protect her health, Angela asked for reasonable adjustments such as reducing her hours in the office. Phil refused and this led to a heated argument where he raised unjustified performance concerns. Phil accused her of not being committed and took away her right to work from home. She was signed off with work-related stress.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

We helped Angela to raise a formal grievance in relation to her complaints that had led to her being off ill with work related stress. This included complaints of disability discrimination and her equality concerns. The company failed to investigate properly and her complaints were not upheld. Angela’s discretionary sick pay was also cut.

We helped Angela draft her resignation letter so it was clear she was resigning with immediate effect in the face of these breaches and that she was bringing a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. Angela received a response to this letter threatening her with breach of contract action for failing to serve her notice. She was also falsely accused of having had an extra-marital affair with a work colleague.

We entered into Acas Early Conciliation process in an attempt to achieve an amicable settlement. Angela had the benefit of legal expenses insurance. We went on to issue a claim for failure to make reasonable adjustments, discrimination arising from disability, victimisation and constructive dismissal.

The employer aggressively defended her claims by making a strike out application in an attempt to exclude race discrimination. We successfully defended this application at a Preliminary Hearing.

We dealt with the various case management directions in preparation for trial including Schedule of Loss, disclosure and Witness Statements. We also applied for a Witness Order for an important witness who was unwilling unless ordered due to fear of retaliation.

The Employer disputed the issue of disability, so we obtained medical records, produced an Impact Statement and instructed a Joint Expert to provide a Report..

The result

The case was listed for a 6 day hearing. We represented Angela at Judicial Mediation but the employer was not prepared to offer a fair settlement. The employer issued a cost warning known as a Calderbank letter. We refused this offer and made a counter offer. The employer accepted Angela’s final offer to settle shortly before the trial to avoid the six day hearing. Angela received £70,000, which she felt was fair compensation.

If you believe that your employer is discriminating against you, our expert Employment Law solicitors can help. Contact us now on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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