Employee unfairly dismissed after a bowel cancer operation

A tribunal has ruled that a large corporation bank was liable under the Equality Act for discriminatory dismissal. The claimant was a senior and successful employee of NatWest Bank with over six years’ service. They were told by the bank that they were to be dismissed on the grounds of redundancy, two days after surgery to remove a malignant tumour.

The Tribunal rejected the bank’s claim that the role was redundant and found that the work the claimant was employed to do “had not ceased or diminished”.   Unusually, the Tribunal found, it had “clear evidence of discriminatory intent” by the claimants’ managers in the form of a recorded telephone conversation with HR.

This happened just a few weeks after the cancer diagnosis first became known, during which they sought advice on terminating the employment early because the claimant was likely to be absent from work.

According to the claimant they were ‘’physically and emotionally in turmoil” as they were dismissed from a £160,000-a year position without any offer of alternative employment just eight months after a bowel cancer diagnosis.

The employment Judge also found that the claimant had been unfairly dismissed, and that the bank failed to show a potentially fair reason for the dismissal which was “tainted with discrimination”.

The Tribunal has encouraged the parties to settle the case to avoid the need for a remedy hearing later this year as the claimant is seeking long term losses which exceed £2 million!

121 HR Solutions can assist in the areas of long-term absence or redundancy simply contact us and we will be happy to discuss.

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