Helping a Haywards Heath employer defend a disability discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Ghana Medical, a charity based in Haywards Heath, employed Anne as a Fundraising Coordinator. She had worked for the charity for over 20 years and until her health declined, she had been a strong performer.
In 2014, Anne had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was signed off sick by her doctor.
Two years later, she remained on long term sick leave and the Chair was concerned that it was no longer possible to continue keeping her job open. The Chair wrote to Anne to dismiss her with immediate effect and enclosed a Settlement Agreement offering one month’s pay.
Anne wrote to reject the Settlement Agreement and to appeal against her dismissal. She also complained of disability discrimination and unpaid wages.
Anne had legal expenses insurance and brought a claim at the Employment Tribunal.
The Trustees initially tried to defend the claim themselves but following a Preliminary Hearing, they realised they were out of their depth and instructed Martin Searle Solicitors.
Matthew Grant advised Ghana Medical’s Trustees that Anne’s claim was certain to succeed and assessed their minimum exposure as being £17,000 with a more realistic award being closer to £23,000.
Matthew advised that they settle the claim at the earliest point and for the lowest amount. The Trustees set a budget within which to resolve the dispute.
Matthew filed an Amended Response which strengthened their defence by highlighting additional arguments.
When Anne sought to introduce new allegations, Matthew successfully resisted an application by her solicitors to amend the claim.
Matthew also wrote to Anne’s solicitors to press for medical evidence and suggested that her Schedule of Loss at £33,000 was vastly overstated. This led her solicitors to concede that she had not been applying for work which reduced the value of her claims.
Matthew put forward a more realistic offer of settlement and negotiated with Anne’s solicitor.
Matthew successfully negotiated a settlement of £7,000 plus an agreed reference.
Ghana Medical were able to resolve the dispute for about 2/3 of their available budget.
By settling at an early stage Ghana Medical were also able to minimise future legal costs, valuable Trustee time, and reputational damage.