Asthmatic Employee Who Was Unfavourably Treated Wins £1.1m

Photo Credits - Sahej Brar via Unsplash

In September 2022, an employment tribunal ruled in favour of Miss G Raja, stating that she had been unfavourably treated because of something arising from disability and subject to a detriment. Following this judgement, Miss Raja, who was an asthmatic employee at Starling Bank, has been awarded £1.1m.

How Was Miss Raja Unfavourably Treated?

Miss Raja, a disabled employee, began working for Starling Bank in July 2019 and passed her probation without issues. Her manager, Mr Newman, explained how although her performance was satisfactory, he expected more. 

He tended to work long hours in the office and looked for the same from those he managed. However, it was found that the claimant would work her contracted hours in the office and do additional work at home. Despite this, she claims no issues regarding her performance were ever brought up.

READ: What Does Autism in the Workplace Look Like?

Then, in October 2019, Miss Raja began to experience a persistent cough. She claimed this was due to the air conditioning in the office, which amplified her asthma. Moreover, she’d previously raised the matter several times, but the company failed to resolve it.

With her symptoms persisting, the claimant visited her GP, who discovered she had a chest infection and needed new inhalers. This led to her requiring sick leave in December 2019 and a chest x-ray the following month. Miss Raja explained that her manager did not respond to her emails about this, making her feel punished.

Following these events, Mr Newman raised concerns with the CEO and Chief People Officer of Starling Bank. Subsequently, in February 2020, the company decided that they would dismiss Miss Raja because of her performance. Due to the claimant’s health, her dismissal was delayed until March 2020, when, in a meeting, she was told she was “not a Starling person”.

Miss Raja claimed that she believed this meeting was about her health issues. She stated that she’d been given no prior warnings about her performance, either written or oral, and felt ‘blindsided’. As a result, she made a number of claims against Starling Bank to an employment tribunal.

ET Upholds Discrimination Claim but Dismisses The Rest

Before Judge Joffe, the initial case was heard in July 2022 at the London Central Employment Tribunal (by Cloud Video Platform). Miss Raja made several claims, including that she’d been unfavourably treated because of something arising from disability in being dismissed. She also claimed that she’d been subject to a detriment as the respondent didn’t hold a meeting to discuss her health before dismissing her instantly.

READ: Inclusive Hiring Practices: Welcoming Candidates with Mental Health Conditions in the UK

The tribunal dismissed several claims put forth by Miss Raja but upheld the ones outlined above. This led to a further hearing in February, April and August of 2023 before Judge Joffe at the London Central Employment Tribunal (by Cloud Video Platform). At this hearing, the remedy judgment was given, where the claimant was awarded a total of £1,145,386.31.

Miss Raja’s award included compensation for loss of earnings in the past and future, injury to her feelings and interest. The tribunal also grossed up her award to reflect the tax payable by the claimant.

Types of Disability Discrimination You Could Claim

In the case of Miss Raja, she was awarded compensation due to being unfavourably treated because of something arising from her disability. Below are examples of the disability discrimination claims employees could bring against their employer.

Direct Disability Discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010, direct discrimination occurs when an individual is treated less favourably because of a ‘protected characteristic’, which includes disability. This could happen if someone has a disability, is thought to have one or has a connection to someone who does.

Indirect Disability Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 outlines that indirect discrimination occurs when a working practice that applies to everyone puts someone with a ‘protected characteristic’ at a disadvantage. Yet, if the employer can prove that the action has a ‘legitimate aim’ and is ‘proportionate, appropriate and necessary’, it won’t be considered indirect discrimination.

Discrimination Arising From Disability

This type of discrimination is what Miss Raja experienced. It occurs when someone experiences discrimination caused by something that has resulted from their disability. This could include requiring regular absences from work for medical appointments.

No matter the type of disability discrimination at work you’ve experienced, specific eligibility criteria must be satisfied to proceed. Redmans Solicitors are experts in employment law and have many years of experience helping people with similar cases.

Please feel free to contact them now if you have any questions or want to discover the validity of your case.


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