Cancer sufferer awarded £47,000 in discrimination case
Published: 22 September 2017
A woman who claimed she was subjected to discrimination and harassment while undergoing treatment for cancer has been awarded more than £47,700 compensation.
Eimear Coughlan worked for the Hideaways Club (UK) Ltd, a
property investment firm based in London. She was the office manager and
personal assistant to the chief executive, Poonam Dhawan-Leach.
Problems arose after she had to undergo surgery and
intensive chemotherapy after developing an aggressive form of breast cancer.
She said Ms Leach treated her "sympathetically and with
natural concern" at first, allowing her to work flexibly around her
treatment schedule and to work from home if she felt particularly unwell.
However, the attitude changed over the following few months.
The concession of flexible working was withdrawn and she was told she would
have to take sick leave for at least half a day on reduced pay if she had to
attend a medical appointment, even if it was only for an hour.
Ms Leach contacted the firm’s HR department for advice,
saying Ms Coughlan “had not done a single day’s work” in the last three months
and the working arrangement was not sustainable.
3 days before Ms Coughlan was due to undergo major surgery,
she received an email accusing her being unfit to work yet refusing to take
The Hideaways club disputed the claims and said that many of
their decisions were made out of concern for Ms Coughlan.
The Employment Tribunal dismissed Ms Coughlan’s claims of
constructive dismissal and victimisation, but held that she had been subjected
to discrimination and harassment.
Judge David Pearl said some of the firm’s actions like
asking her to provide medical letters “violated her dignity” and it had been
irrational to expect her to take half a day’s sick leave to attend a medical
He added that removing the flexible working arrangement was
“plainly unfavourable treatment” despite Ms Leach claiming it was for Ms
Please contact Matthew Sigsworth in our Dispute Resolution
Team if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article
or any aspect of Employment Law.