When an employee falls ill, it is absolutely vital to avoid discrimination and treat them with sensitivity. In one case where that certainly failed to happen, a breast cancer sufferer won substantial compensation from her former employer.
The woman worked as PA for the chief executive of a property company. After her condition was diagnosed, she was initially treated with sympathy and concern and flexible working arrangements were put in place to enable her to undergo treatment. Relations with her boss subsequently frayed, however, and a dispute developed as to whether or not she should go on sick leave, at a reduced rate of pay.
She ultimately resigned and, after she lodged a complaint, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that she had suffered three incidents of harassment and disability discrimination within the meaning of Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.
Her flexible working arrangements had been removed without proper consultation or discussion and she had been required to go on sick leave for three to four months, during which she would receive statutory sick pay. She had also been required to accept a different role within the company, at a reduced salary.
Medical evidence established that she had suffered psychiatric injury as a result of her treatment and in that respect she was awarded £7,500 in compensation. She was also awarded £16,000 for injury to her feelings. After interest, financial losses and expenses were taken into account, the total award came to £47,701.