|Worsley v Commissioners for HM Revenue & Customs 2400096/2016
For the original full judgment click here
For the remedy judgment click here
The Claimant was employed as an HMRC Administrative Officer from 1970 until her employment was terminated in April 2015. She had been on sick leave since December 2014 with depression resulting from stress at work. She complained of being bullied by her line manager since September 2014 and brought a claim of unfair dismissal and unfavourable treatment arising in consequence of disability, and a failure to make reasonable adjustments.
[para 194] The tribunal found that the Claimant was a “very vulnerable individual and felt suicidal” and was not in a fit state to be receiving letters from work regarding her absence and had reached breaking point.
[para 260-1] The tribunal also found that as an employer of over 1,000 employees with a number of suitable alternative teams there was “no cogent explanation…why it was not possible to move the claimant to another team in the same building with another manager” as she had requested.
[para 268] The tribunal found that no assessment was undertaken regarding how the claimant’s absence could be supported and tolerated despite company policy that this should be done. The tribunal found this contrary to the consideration set out in BS v Dundee City Council  IRLR 131 of whether an employer can be expected to wait any longer for an employee to recover from illness. The Claimant’s absence at the time of dismissal was 2.5 months when up to a one year absence was set out as tolerable in the Respondent’s policy. [para 269]
The tribunal found that the requirement to work for a particular line manager was a PCP that placed her at a substantial disadvantage. The tribunal did not rely on classifying the line manager’s behaviour as “bullying” but stated that a person without the Claimant’s disability would have been able to “shrug off [her] brisk and sharp manner…The claimant was a vulnerable individual with a pre-existing history of depression and the way she related to her manager was different to a person who was not disabled.” Her claim of being moved as reasonable adjustment therefore succeeded
The tribunal found that the Claimant would have continued her employment until retirement if the adjustment had been made. It did not therefore allow a Polkey adjustment and also ordered a 25% uplift for failure to follow procedure. The remedy judgment published on 6th October awarded a total of £243,957.28. This included £20,000 for injury to feelings, £25,000 for personal injury and £76,000 loss of earnings.