Failure to follow procedure resulted in award of over £15,000

A factory packer who suffered multiple seizures at work was unfairly dismissed and was a victim of disability discrimination, a tribunal has ruled. The dismissal was found to be “procedurally unfair” as the employer did not provide a written invitation to a meeting, setting out the possibility of a capability dismissal as the result of epilepsy.

The Claimant explained to the tribunal that he was able to predict when a seizure was likely to happen approximately “10-20 minutes” beforehand. It was reported that he had nine seizures between 2014 and 2020, six of which occurred in the workplace, which either resulted in him “falling ill at work” or an ambulance being called.

After a seizure at work in October 2020, an Occupational Health (OH) assessment was carried out after which he was invited to attend a meeting.   The OH report concluded that the employee “should be considered as unfit for work” because of his risk of further seizures at work and the employee’s GP reported that his epilepsy would need “long-term treatment and that there was a possibility of relapses and further seizures”, concluding that he should not be working in an environment with “dangerous machinery and moving vehicles”.

The company concluded that it was not able to ensure the employee’s safety in the workplace. However, the OH report had stated that if certain “steps were taken”, such as employing more staff to take over some of his responsibilities the risk could be substantially reduced.

The company dismissed the employee but failed to provide a written invitation to the dismissal meeting, setting out the potential consequences, or including the OH report. This meant that the employee had no opportunity to consider the findings of the report or to discuss his view of the findings and/ or any reasonable adjustments which he felt might have assisted his ability to remain at work.

He was awarded a total sum of £15,269.63 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

This case highlights the importance of a fair process being followed by employers before dismissing an employee; in particular having written invitation letters that set out the issues to be discussed and the potential outcomes of the process and enclosing any evidence being relied upon. Should you require help in such a situation, contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk.

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