By Joanne Stronach Head of Employment & HR
A woman who suffers from diabetes has been awarded £14,000 after being humiliated at work.
Holly Carr, who had type 1 diabetes, worked as a fleet administrator at Weston Homes for two months.
She told her line manager, Lauren Goodwin, and events co-ordinator Gaynor Impiazza, about her condition at a staff lunch to welcome her. She said she wouldn’t be drinking alcohol as she was diabetic.
Goodwin then told Carr she must attend an HR meeting where she was asked questions about her medication and her strategy for keeping her condition under control.
She was asked how often she tested her blood and what time she took her medication. She said she always kept an ‘emergency’ bottle of orange juice, which she handed to another member of staff, Mrs Moorcroft, to see.
Goodwin also took Carr around the office so she could tell first aiders about her condition. At a site visit, Carr didn’t join her colleague in getting food from a food van and was quizzed by Moorcroft about her sugar levels.
She became worried that Moorcroft was trying to catch her out and let her know the company was keeping an eye on her.
Carr later discovered that Goodwin and Impiazza had discussed her condition in an email conversation.
Impiazza had said: “Let’s hope so… as long as she doesn’t go into hypoglycaemic [low blood sugar level] shock anytime soon!!!” followed by a ‘shocked face’ emoji.
There were similar incidents before Carr was let go by Weston Homes in a meeting where she was told her ‘employment was not going to work out’ after a car wasn’t cleaned on time.
Carr asked for further information but the company was reluctant to give her more details, so she brought a disability discrimination claim.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that while Carr’s work was not perfect, the allegations were not substantial enough to warrant her dismissal.
The questioning that Carr faced at the meeting had been “excessive, invasive and heavy handed”.
Moorcroft said she had wanted to learn more about the illness, but the court ruled that Carr’s HR meeting was not the time or place to do so.
It also rejected Impiazza’s claim that her email was out of genuine concern and was, in fact, a joke at Carr’s expense.
The judge said that being taken around the office and made to announce that she was diabetic must have been ‘highly embarrassing’ for Carr and that the incident at the food van amounted to harassment.
The tribunal ruled that the main reason for Carr’s dismissal had been her disability and awarded her £14,000 compensation.
If you would like any more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law then please contact Joanne Stronach on 01228 516 666 or email her here.