Engineer sacked while depressed wins employment claim
Published: 26 February 2018
An engineer who was sacked while off work with depression has won his claim of unfair dismissal after a tribunal ruled that the employer had been “totally unreasonable”.
Andrew Mitchell started working as a software engineer for Amiho
Technology in Cambridgeshire in 2011. He claimed he had a difficult
relationship with some of his managers, whom he described as bullying and
Mr Mitchell was involved in a workplace argument in 2015,
which led to disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct. He said the company sent him emails that gave
him the impression that the process was being used to get him to leave or face
He was then signed off work on 3 occasions, suffering from
depression. On the third occasion, he was told that the company would proceed
with its sickness absence procedure and would obtain medical reports. His
manager added that when his sickness period ended, he would remain suspended while
the disciplinary proceedings continued.
While he was off work, the company continued to contact him
about the gross negligence matter and he was given as little as 2 days to
respond to correspondence.
He was sacked in July 2016 following a dismissal meeting,
which was held despite Mr Mitchell informing the company that he had difficulty
functioning because of the prescription medicine he was taking.
The Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair.
It described the time limit for replying to emails while he was off sick was
The company had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Mr
Mitchell’s mental health and made no attempt at mediation. Nor did it consider
suspending the disciplinary process until Mr Mitchell was able to cope with it.
Employment Judge Laidler said: “The Claimant’s dismissal was
clearly unfavourable treatment because of something arising from his
disability, as he was dismissed because of his sickness absence, which was
entirely down to his disability, and because he could not say when he would
“The Respondent knew or reasonably ought to have known that
he was disabled by the time of the dismissal meeting. The dismissal clearly
amounted to unfavourable treatment.”
The level of compensation will be decided at a further
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.