Stroke patient awarded £400,000 in disability discrimination case

A man who was dismissed from his job following a stroke has been awarded nearly £400,000 in compensation for disability discrimination.

Jonathan Jones, a branch manager in Wales for builders’ merchant Jewson, was dismissed on the grounds of incapacity five months after he suffered a stroke.

Prior to the stroke, Jones had worked more than 60 hours per week and had not taken his full holiday entitlement.

Jones’ doctor stated that he would need to avoid stress at work in order to return to his employment but Jewson decided that no role at the company would be without stress and so decided to dismiss him.

The tribunal found that the dismissal amounted to disability discrimination as the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments.

The £390,870.58 payout is Wales’ highest ever discrimination award. However, there have been larger payouts for disability discrimination cases in the UK, including a £792,000 award given to a disabled football journalist for unfair dismissal and unlawful harassment.

Stephen Jackson, solicitor and principal at Jackson Osborne Employment Lawyers, who represented Jones, commented: “The one thing that the GP report did not say was that Mr Jones would never make a full recovery from his stroke. One of the most startling aspects of this case came as we forced Jewson to disclose statistics about their sickness absence rates.

“It turned out that in a two-year period prior to Mr Jones dismissal, 204 other employees had been allowed more than six months’ absence, and 64 employees more than 12 months’ absence. Against those statistics, and noting that Mr Jones in fact made a full recovery within 11 months of his stroke, common sense says he should have been given time to recover.”

Jewson argued at the tribunal that the evidence of the 204 employees showed that there was a distinguishing factor between them and Jones’s case, in that Jones was unable to return to his role, while the others had an uncertain or favourable prospect of returning to work.

For more information on employment law surrounding disability discrimination, view XpertHR’s reference manual.

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