How Sarah Henderson, Employment Law solicitor based in our Brighton office, negotiated a substantial settlement for a Head Gardener with a history of mental health issues who was dismissed for gross misconduct.
Mike managed a small team of gardeners at a stately home in Sussex. He had previously had a breakdown in his mental health, which was known to his employer.
He was feeling under pressure of expectations at work and his mental health started to decline which resulted in him becoming increasingly critical of his team and how they did their work.
One of his team made a complaint about something Mike had said to him. Other members of Mike’s team were then invited by their employer to offload any issues of concern they had about him. As a result of this, Mike was suspended.
His employer had decided to treat the issues as matters of gross misconduct rather than capability (health) issues, despite acknowledging that Mike was suffering from stress and anxiety.
Mike sought our advice following his first disciplinary hearing. We advised him and assisted him in the preparation of a grievance which made the clear link between his alleged misconduct and Mike’s disability.
The grievance was investigated but his employer failed to acknowledge the link and the disciplinary process continued, resulting in his dismissal for gross misconduct.
We issued proceedings for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, which which were vigorously defended by Mike’s employer who refused to acknowledge that Mike had a qualifying disability as defined by the Equality Act. They defended his discrimination claims on the basis that he was not disabled at the relevant time. We managed to persuade the Employment Tribunal to order the instruction of a joint psychology expert which the parties shared the cost of.
We managed to negotiate a substantial Settlement for Mike of more than £50,000. He had not worked since he was dismissed because of the impact of what had happened on his mental health.
He had suffered a significant loss of earnings as well as injury to feelings and discrimination-related personal injury as his former employer’s conduct had exacerbated his mental health condition.
Mike was pleased with the outcome, and said “The support and care was unbelievable – I can’t say thank you enough.”
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