Courier won nearly £30,000 for unfair dismissal after he suffered heart attack
A courier who was told by bosses ‘we are not a charity’ after he suffered a heart attack and was refused sick pay has won nearly £30,000 for unfair dismissal.
The employee began working as a courier in 2002 and was transferred between different companies – the most recent being All Job Trading Ltd in Bathgate, West Lothian. He primarily carried out work for DX Document Exchange, a private business-to-business network.
In 2018, he suffered a heart attack and had to undergo surgery. While in hospital he suffered a focal seizure resulting in blackouts and a lack of awareness of what was happening around him.
He was required to disclose this to the DVLA and his licence was revoked for one year. The employee submitted sick notes and was paid sick pay – but in June the following year, the sick pay stopped.
The employee made several attempts to contact his employer to ask why his sick pay had been stopped but was not able to speak to anyone, being told repeatedly that they were “too busy” to call him back. He sent emails and texts to the directors and eventually was told by a director that “we are not a charity”.
The employee therefore considered that his employment had been terminated. The employment judge found that the employee had suffered disability discrimination and harassment and awarded a 10% uplift on the award due to the way they handled his case, stating that “The comments made to the effect that the respondent was not a charity were insensitive, inappropriate and unreasonable. The remarks were clearly unwanted conduct related to his disability and the tribunal had no doubt as to the impact of the comments on the claimant.The comments had the purpose or effect of violating the claimant’s dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him.”
This situation would have been likely to have ended in a capability dismissal had it been well handled and this is yet another reminder to businesses to seek proper advice before handling sensitive situations, likely to end up in an employment tribunal!