TSSA and Morrish Solicitors have won a long-running case of disability discrimination and victimisation against Network Rail, which has resulted in the employer having to pay in excess of £32,000 in compensation.
Natalie Brown was and remains employed as an information controller for Network Rail. At the time of these events between November 2016 and June 2017, she suffered from a mental health disability. As part of a return to work review in November 2016, it was agreed that Natalie should be the one to tell her staff about her disability and the problems associated with it, however, her manager ignored that request and spoke to them. Natalie felt her manager was unsympathetic.
Natalie lodged a grievance about these events alleging harassment related to disability and discrimination. From that point onwards she was isolated from her team and was forced to work from a different location. Numerous failures to communicate with Natalie occurred – it was as if she was no longer a manager. The grievance took over 3 months to reach a conclusion and was partially upheld. It was a further 3 to 4 months before her appeal was dealt with, which was again rejected.
TSSA and Morrish Solicitors agreed to pursue claims for discrimination and victimisation against Network Rail.
Judgment was delivered in June and August 2018. The Tribunal decided that Natalie had been discriminated against and harassed in November 2016 and also that she had been victimised because she had lodged a grievance complaint. Natalie’s manager was found to have breached confidentiality and this, coupled with her reaction to the effects of her disability, amounted to harassment and discrimination. In respect of the grievance process, the Tribunal found that “the quality of the work conducted…was seriously lacking”. The failings were so inadequate that they must have related to the fact Natalie had raised a grievance.
As a result, the discrimination having occurred over a 6-7 month period, the Tribunal decided to award in excess of £32,000 for injury to feelings, personal injury, an uplift for breach of the ACAS Code and interest.
Commenting on the case, Natalie added:
“From start to finish I have received nothing but support, guidance and help from Morrish Solicitors and the TSSA Union. I cannot thank Daniel Kindell and James Chegwidden enough for the amount of hours spent on my case and the amount of hardwork and effort from everyone at Morrish. My Union representative, Tim Lulham is an amazing man, he is an outstanding individual who has also become a true friend. I would also like to thank Alan Valentine and Adele Potten-Price who continued to support me alongside Tim Lulham through the lengthy process of my case. And finally one last thank you to Ethel Cass and Andrew Rickman for finding me an alternative position with Network Rail and for helping to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem.”