I recently completed an Employment Tribunal claim for my disabled client. This was an extremely complex matter, not only because of my client’s medical conditions but, also, in respect of the types of disability discrimination claims she was pursuing at the Employment Tribunal. Please read on for further information.
My Client’s Story
My client worked in a school providing classroom support. She suffered from a number of different health conditions. Some conditions were, in and of themselves, disabilities. Other conditions were relatively minor but impacted upon her disabilities.
My client was aware that she had the right to ask her employer to make reasonable adjustments to support her in the workplace. Initially, some adjustments were made. However, my client’s employer was dismissive of the need to keep arrangements under review and to offer different levels of support when necessary. Their approach to their obligations towards their disabled employee was a tick box. They had a meeting, agreed some support, and then to forget all about the ongoing and variable needs of my client.
The employer’s approach meant that although support was provided initially, the reasonable adjustments which had been agreed were soon eroded when the school was put under any kind of pressure. Also, when my client asked for different or additional help, she was refused on the basis that there had already been a meeting and adjustments had already been agreed. She was treated by management as if she was a nuisance. Her emails were ignored; permissions were withheld; and, requests for help were not dealt with in a timely manner. This meant that, often, my client was having to struggle in situations which could have been avoided.
Helping My Client
My client contacted me for a free enquiry. She had submitted an Employment Tribunal claim herself. Unfortunately, as she put it, “everything had got very complicated”. She had had two preliminary hearings before the Employment Tribunal. At the time of our free enquiry, the school had made an application to have her claims struck out. She was, understandably, anxious about this. When she contacted me, she was a few weeks away from the Employment Tribunal hearing to consider the school’s strike out application. This could have resulted in my client’s claims being brought to an end. There was also a threat from the school that they considered my client’s claim to be weak and that they wanted to recover from her their legal costs in defending her claim.
My client was understandably distressed during that first free enquiry. I was able to take some details from her and it became clear that she did have legitimate claims to bring before the Employment Tribunal. Unfortunately, her claims had not been pleaded properly. Due to the complex nature of her disabilities and the factual background, it was not entirely clear from her Employment Tribunal Claim Form what her claims actually were. This left her vulnerable to applications for strike out and costs by the school.
During that first enquiry, I discussed with my client her funding options. She did not realise that she had legal expenses insurance as part of her home and contents policy. She was astonished to find out that she had been struggling to do everything herself when, in fact, she had insurance in place which would pay for my help and legal representation.
Going forward, the first step was to obtain an emergency indemnity from my client’s insurers so that I could do the necessary work to defend the school’s application to strike out her claims. Having got the indemnity in place, we had a huge amount of work to do in a very short time to ensure my client was able to proceed.
My client was delighted when the Employment Judge refused the school’s application to strike out her claims and, also, refused any suggestion of a deposit order or costs. The Employment Judge was extremely complimentary about the work we had done to establish the details of her disability and, then, to identify the claims which related to those disabilities.
Orders were made to progress the Claimant’s claim. A Hearing was then arranged for late 2023.
One of the first things we were required to do was to obtain medical evidence of my client’s disabilities as the school were denying she was a disabled person. Also, we were required to prepare an Impact Statement for our client, explaining how each of her medical conditions affected her. Having undertaken that work, the school were then forced to concede that my client had a number of disabilities.
Negotiating A Settlement
After the school (finally) conceded my client was disabled, preparations for the final hearing began. At that time, we started to receive offers from the school to settle my client’s claims.
After some intense negotiation, we were able to settle my client’s claims just before the Christmas break. She was absolutely delighted to bring an end to something that had caused her a huge amount of stress and anxiety. I was so pleased to have been able to help her. I was also pleased that my help had been funded by her insurers and we had been able to work together without my incurring a cost for her personally.
When my client contacted me to let me know she had received her compensatory payment, she kindly made the following comments: –
“I just wanted to say a massive thank you. You really did do the impossible and turn this case into a success for me. I knew from the first day that my case was extremely complex, but that just highlights how outstanding you are in your work…. Thanks for helping me get justice in a situation where I was told I would never have justice. It means more than you will ever be able to comprehend. Shout out to you Sally Hubbard, the best in the game”
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you have a current Employment Tribunal matter and need help with your representation, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01522 440512. Alternatively, for more information about the Employment Tribunal process, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/the-employment-tribunal-process/
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors