Employment law specialist wins £168,000 in unfair dismissal case

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An employment tribunal remedy hearing last week awarded a university law lecturer £168,000 for constructive unfair dismissal.

In 2020 Elizabeth Aylott succeeded in her claim against her former employer, private law university BPP, with the Central London employment tribunal finding that the university had failed to reduce her workload despite her mental health issues, leading the employment law specialist to leave her post in spring 2019.

Aylott suffered from anxiety and depression and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after leaving her job at BPP. She had repeatedly raised issues about her workload at BPP and her problems coping with it.

At one point during her employment with BPP one colleague had said she was a good worker but was “as mad as a box of frogs”.

Following a four-day remedy hearing Aylott was awarded £168,000. This six-figure sum included £71,200 for future financial losses, £32,000 for past financial losses and £20,000 for injury to feelings.

Occupational health was not engaged with Aylott early enough, the tribunal heard last year. Judge Timothy Adkin said: “The claimant said that she had suffered a breakdown, felt overloaded and could no longer cope,” but her boss Mr Shaw “suggested that her feelings of stress were based on her perception.”

The judge commented that Shaw was “plainly of the view that managers working in excess of contractual hours was “normal’.”

In a statement provided for the remedy hearing, Aylott said: “I think it is reasonable to conclude that I was crying out for help, possibly throughout 2018, but certainly from 19 or 20 September 2018.

“It led to a much more severe breakdown, and a vulnerability that I do not think I can fully recover from.

“By the time I was finally referred to occupational health I had severe depressive illness with anxiety and panic attacks, with thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation and drinking heavily.

“If I had received OH support earlier, I could have recovered quietly, as I wished to do, and returned to BPP, so there is a direct correlation between the lack of OH support and my financial and career status now.”

BPP had successfully defended other aspects of the case, including claims for direct and indirect disability discrimination, harassment, and failing to make reasonable adjustments.

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