£1.1 million payout for asthmatic lawyer

An asthmatic lawyer who worked for Starling Bank and was sacked after asking to work from home following sickness absence, has been awarded more than £1.1 million.

The award follows a successful employment tribunal held last year, which heard that the lawyer’s career was “thrown severely off course” after she was sacked for adhering to her contract by leaving work on time. Her manager felt that she should be more “present” in the office, disregarding the fact that the lawyer frequently logged on and completed work in the evenings, from home. She even worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but was penalised for taking time off when she became ill with asthma. The employee believed that her cough had been caused by the air conditioning in the office, and asked to move to a different desk, further away. When this was not granted, she asked to work from home but this was refused due to a “team culture”.   

The employment Judge considered that there was good evidence that the lawyer’s manager placed a higher value on employees who worked long hours in the office and was critical of the claimant for leaving work at the end of her contracted hours.  

Starling has been ordered to pay the claimant a total of £1.145 million – comprising a mixture of lost earnings, and injury to feelings, as well as an additional sum to cover the amount of tax the employee will have to pay.

The size of the award reflects that the issue in the case became one of disability discrimination. Yet again, an employer failed to take a long-term condition into account when making judgements about an employee’s performance at work.  121 HR Solutions regularly supports businesses with training for managers in this, and other subjects. For further information please contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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