£117k awarded to technician dismissed over mental health issues

A school technician who was discriminated against because of his disabilities and unfairly dismissed has been awarded £117,013 compensation.

Mr D Walker suffered with psoriatic arthritis, depression and anxiety. He worked at Old Swinford Hospital School from June 2014 until September 2017.

He had periods of absence and lateness during 2016. These increased in 2017, when his mental wellbeing started to decline.

This followed a change in the medication he was using, which resulted in him experiencing nausea and dizziness.

Following an occupational health appointment in February 2017, Mr Walker was advised not to operate hazardous equipment including a circular saw, a guillotine and forge machinery until his condition stabilised.

However, the school didn’t take this into account and Mr Walker was back to using this equipment as early as April 2017.

He was offered two alternative roles, but neither was appropriate due to a reduction in pay or other issues that meant the position was not suitable.

Mr Walker received a letter from the school bursar telling him he would be removed from his role as a technician.

A dismissal meeting was scheduled for 25 September, but Mr Walker was unable to attend due to stress and anxiety brought about by the school’s decision to terminate his employment.

After the school rejected an appeal, Mr Walker brought claims of unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed as the school had failed to make adjustments to accommodate his disability. It had not taken into account that his absence and lateness record had improved.

Mr Walker was awarded £85,829 for loss of past and future earnings and injury to feelings, and a further £31,184 in outstanding pension claims.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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