How Christine Gannon, expert Employment Law solicitor, based in our Brighton office, represented an employee in claims of sex discrimination and disability discrimination, resulting in increased compensation of over £60,000.
Dorothy had long service as a Finance Manager for Ash Strategies, a consultancy firm. Dorothy had always been highly regarded in this role and had an excellent working relationship with the former CEO. Unfortunately, this changed when a new CEO, Greg, was appointed. Dorothy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in August 2020 and shared this with Greg in confidence. As Dorothy was working from home due to COVID, she was able to manage her symptoms.
In April 2021, Greg said that they really needed to have a conversation with an HR Consultant engaged by the employer, about what Dorothy might need at work due to her medical condition.
On 13 April 2021, this meeting took place but rather than it being a supportive meeting to discuss reasonable adjustments to Dorothy’s role Greg and his HR Consultant criticised her performance and that of her team. Dorothy felt that she was being interrogated and that Greg was now questioning her abilities because of stereotypical assumptions about what she could or could not do due to Parkinsons Disease.
Subsequent to that meeting, Greg was undermining and unsupportive of Dorothy. She felt that he would not treat a male member of staff in this way.
In or around October 2021, Greg incorrectly blamed her for a budgeting error and she was subsequently undermined in a Team Meeting.
On 16 November 2021, Dorothy attended a board meeting. Greg’s whole demeanour towards her was hostile and as a result she became anxious and her hand started to shake as she was sharing a budget document (which unknown to her included staffing salaries). Later that day Greg said her mistake in sharing confidential information had made him extremely angry and he mentioned other mistakes which had caused HR issues to arise. Dorothy was shocked by this. Dorothy felt that she had nowhere to turn as the HR Consultant engaged by her employer was not on her side. Instead of advising Greg of his need to make adjustments, this HR Consultant was suggesting grounds to discipline her. This was the case even though Greg ah made a similar mistake when first employed and unknowingly sent out confidential information about employee salaries to each other.
Despite knowing that anxiety worsened Dorothy’s symptoms, Greg said he would need to reflect on whether Dorothy would be disciplined for these breaches of confidence.
Dorothy was left waiting for two weeks and then told that the incident would be treated as a disciplinary issue, but it would be at least two weeks before any formal disciplinary process would commence. When Dorothy asked to work from home because of the anxiety having this disciplinary outstanding, Greg suggested that the disciplinary process be brought forward, without any regard for due process of specifics of the disciplinary charges against her.
At this point Dorothy came to Martin Searle Solicitors. Christine assisted Dorothy with raising a formal grievance about the treatment she had received from Greg and her employer’s HR Consultant. It took two months for a grievance meeting to be held and a further two months for Dorothy to receive the grievance outcome.
Dorothy’s employer accepted that Greg had failed to follow the disciplinary procedure, had not taken into account mitigating factors and had unreasonably kept Dorothy waiting to find out whether she would be disciplined. The employer did not make any findings as to why this had happened, although Dorothy felt this was because of her disability and her sex, as Greg would not have treated a man this way or if she was not disabled.
We also assisted Dorothy with a grievance appeal and submitted a protective claim on Dorothy’s behalf for sex and disability discrimination.
Dorothy’s employer proposed a restructure and identified that Dorothy’s role was potentially at risk of redundancy.
At this point, Dorothy was keen to leave and Christine negotiate greatly enhanced redundancy terms on her behalf of £45,000 plus her three months’ notice which was paid in lieu.
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