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Worker was discriminated against after revealing mental ill-health

January 11th 2024

A worker whose contract was cancelled within hours of her revealing her mental ill-health was discriminated against on the grounds of disability.

Jennifer Cafferky Solicitor in our employment team, reports on this recent case.

That was the ruling of the Employment Tribunal in the case of Ms Zalejska and Cameo Consultancy (Recruitment) Limited.

Ms Zalejska was appointed to a 12-week assignment at Principal Medical, based at Banbury Cross Health Centre. The post had been arranged by Cameo Consultancy, an employment agency.

After two days in the job, she was being trained by a colleague to obtain a patient’s payment card details over the phone. Zalejska was having problems doing this, so the colleague grabbed the phone and collected the card data.

The colleague told the patient that Zalejska had become “over stressed” and was panicking.

Zalejska felt the atmosphere at work was unpleasant after the phone incident and decided to speak to Ms Nichols, the business support and complaints manager.

She explained that she had mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, and that she took antidepressants to treat her symptoms.

She agreed with Nichols that she should take the day off.

Later that day, Ms Loveland, senior recruitment consultant at Cameo Consulting, called her to terminate her contract.

The tribunal concluded Zalejska was dismissed because of her disclosure of her mental health issues.

Employment judge Annand said: “It was the fact that the claimant disclosed her mental health condition and the fact she disclosed she was on antidepressant medication that made Nichols doubt that the claimant had sufficient resilience for the role and may have had difficulty dealing with unhappy patients.”

The judge added that both Nichols and Loveland “would have taken a different approach if faced with a very upset worker but who had not disclosed a disability”.

A separate remedy hearing will be held to decide compensation.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Jennifer on 01228 516666 or click here to send her an email.

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