Hepatitis sufferer was unfairly dismissed in ‘sham redundancy’
The Employment Tribunal has ruled that a business manager who suffered from hepatitis C was unfairly dismissed by her employer because of her disability.
Carol Smith worked for cosmetic wholesaler Amalgamated Euro Products. Her condition caused her pain, insomnia, fatigue and depression.
She rarely took time off until the period between March and July 2016, when she had to attend regular hospital appointments.
She told her manager Mike Mirzaee about the appointments but did not disclose that she had hepatitis C.
Around the same time the business lost a major client and began to struggle financially.
After Smith returned to work there was a brief discussion with Mirzaee about the possibility of her being made redundant. He said he offered Smith the chance to apply for alternative roles, but she claims she was not given such an opportunity.
At about that time, one of the company’s main clients, for which Smith was solely responsible, began to decrease its level of business, further damaging the company’s financial position. Mirzaee informed Smith she would be let go.
He also advertised for a new account manager, who would have very similar duties to the role that Smith had held, albeit in another one of his companies. She was not granted the opportunity to appeal. The company did not reduce or change its organisational structure.
Smith described her redundancy as a “sham” and took the case to the Employment Tribunal claiming she had been discriminated against because of her disability.
Mirzaee told the tribunal that he was aware that Smith was attending several hospital appointments, but he did not know what they were for, and denied knowledge of her disability.
But the tribunal found the company “ought reasonably to have known from the information provided that Smith had a disability”.
In summary, Employment Judge Tsamados said: “Taking the above into account as well as forming an overview of the events, we find that the respondent, in the absence of any other explanation, dismissed the claimant because of her disability.”
A remedy hearing will be scheduled to decide compensation.
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