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HR Magazine quotes Briony Richards on a disability discrimination claim

A marketing manager has won a discrimination claim after being dismissed by her employer without warning following treatment for breast cancer.

Briony Richards, Associate, comments for HR Magazine on how best to navigate performance related issues and the importance of having appropriate procedures in place.

She comments:

“This case highlights the importance of a clear and well-evidenced reason for dismissal, even where an employee does not have the unfair dismissal rights associated with two years’ service.  Mrs Lyddall was in her probationary period when her employment was terminated and as she didn’t have the two years’ service needed for most unfair dismissal claims, her employer may have felt confident not following a procedure.  Yet, in the absence of any process and without contemporary documentary evidence of a non-discriminatory reason for her dismissal, the Tribunal concluded that her dismissal was, at least in part, because of her disability. There is no minimum service requirement for bringing a discrimination complaint.   

HR departments should encourage managers to keep careful records of poor performance and, wherever possible, address these concerns with the employee at an early opportunity.  Not only does this give the employee the opportunity to improve performance, hopefully avoiding the need for dismissal, it creates a trail of evidence, should the employee ever allege that the reason for dismissal was discriminatory.  Addressing performance issues can be particularly difficult where an employee has health problems, but it is in precisely these circumstances that the risk of a discrimination claim is heightened and extra care must be taken.  HR should consider either raising the performance issues with the employee sensitively and, where appropriate, with the support of a medical report detailing any reasonable adjustments that may be needed, or else delay until the employee’s health has improved such that the concerns can be discussed with them.”

Read the full article in HR Magazine here.

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