Woman wins unfair dismissal case

A PERSONNEL officer who alleged her former employers discriminated against her because she had disabilities has won her battle for unfair dismissal.However, an employment tribunal panel said although Patricia Barnes – a chronic asthma and Crohn's disease sufferer – was unfairly dismissed, her disabilities did not play a part in the decision by bosses at Crane Ltd to terminate her contract.

A PERSONNEL officer who alleged her former employers discriminated against her because she had disabilities has had a partial victory in a tribunal battle.

An employment tribunal panel agreed that Patricia Barnes – a sufferer from chronic asthma and Crohn's disease – was unfairly dismissed. But they decided that her disabilities did not play a part in the decision by bosses at Crane Ltd to lay her off.

Mrs Barnes, who worked for the engineering firm in Nacton Road, Ipswich, for 24 years, alleged disability discrimination and unfair dismissal during the tribunal hearing in Bury St Edmunds.

She claimed she had been selected for redundancy in September 2001 because her disabilities were an inconvenience to the firm.


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She also said a personal grievance with Steve Whiteley, head of human resources, played a part in her dismissal. Mrs Barnes added she felt managers at the company had been antagonised by the amount of time she had taken off work because of her disabilities.

However, the tribunal ruled that bosses had "fallen over backwards" to accommodate Mrs Barnes.

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The ruling said: "There is no evidence which can justify our saying that the respondents behaviour pointed to a policy, regime or practice, a culture of disability discrimination.

"Crane seems to have fallen over backwards to accommodate the applicant's anxiety and sense of injustice.

"We are satisfied the applicant's selection for dismissal)had nothing to do with her being absent by reason of sickness.

"We are further satisfied that the selection was not specifically because of any malice demonstrated against her by Mr Whiteley, though there plainly was ill will between them."

But the tribunal did rule that proper assessments of staff roles, in order to identify the best candidate for redundancy forced after a downturn in business, was not carried out.

Instead, Mrs Barnes was selected for dismissal and her duties were shared among middle-management colleagues.

The tribunal board will rule on an award later in the year.

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