Paul (second from right) worked for BT for more than 30 years before he was dismissed in October 2014. He had a successful career with the company until the final couple of years, when he was marked down in his performance appraisals.
Paul’s health suffered to the point that he had a substantial period of sickness absence, which ultimately led to him being dismissed.
Prospect presented a claim to the tribunal and Paul was represented by barrister, Stephen Marsh of Garden Court Chambers.
The tribunal found the approach of one of Paul’s managers was insensitive and caused him significant stress and anxiety.
The tribunal was critical of the company for failing to apply their internal procedure for dealing with long-term absence and disability, known as Managing Changing Capabilities.
The tribunal found the policy required “significantly more extensive efforts” by the employer and BT “had failed to act as a reasonable employer” by disregarding its own policy.
BT was also censured for not obtaining up-to-date medical advice from occupational health before taking the decision to dismiss.
Prospect representative, David Evans (far right), supported Paul throughout the internal proceedings and was a witness at the tribunal hearing.
The judge praised David and said Paul was lucky to have such good union representation. David’s notes of the internal hearings were particularly important evidence in supporting the case, in the absence of any meeting notes from BT.
While the tribunal accepted that a long-term absence can be fair grounds for dismissal, they found in this case “a reasonable employer would have afforded more time and support to the claimant before reaching a decision to dismiss”.
The tribunal also found that BT had failed to make reasonable adjustments and the dismissal was unlawful discrimination as it was a consequence of his disability.
Paul said: “The support that I received throughout this traumatic time from my amazing union team certainly kept me from ‘going under’.
"Being able to prove that the company had acted illegally is something that I could not have managed alone and this provided foundations for my recovery. I can never thank them enough.”
Marion Scovell, head of Prospect Legal (pictured), said: “This case demonstrates that employers must take all reasonable steps to avoid a dismissal. The tribunal was critical that the employer did not do enough to support Paul back to work.
“It was also heartening that the Judge recognised what a great job David had done,” added Marion.
“It shows how effective our reps and case-handlers are in supporting members”.