Heathrow Express worker wins disability discrimination claim03 July 2006
A HEATHROW Express worker who was dismissed after suffering bouts of stress-related illness as the result of a 'needle-stick' injury sustained at work has won her claim of unfair dismissal on the grounds of disability.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that RMT activist Sally Jenkins should be re-instated after Heathrow Express failed to consider reasonable adjustments to her role as a customer services representative to help her return to work from illness, in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.
The Tribunal also awarded Sally a total of £14,862 for loss of earnings and injury to her feelings.
Sally suffered panic attacks, anxiety and depression following the May 2001 needle-stick incident and the months of uncertainty waiting for the result of an HIV test. After her most recent period of sickness leave, Sally's GP, therapist, consultant psychiatrist and occupational health doctor all recommended that she was fit to return to work.
However, despite a recommendation in September 2005 from the company's own consultant psychiatrist that Sally could be eased back into work, she was dismissed on health grounds last December.
"This ruling has lifted a massive weight from me and I feel relieved and completely vindicated," Sally Jenkins said today. "It has been a long haul, but RMT backed my case all the way."
Charlotte Moore, Sally's solicitor at RMT law firm Thompsons, said: "It is rare for an employment tribunal to order reinstatement, even where a finding of unfair dismissal is made.
"This decision sends a very strong message to Heathrow Express, and to all employers, about their duties and responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act, including the requirement to make reasonable adjustments to enable workers with disabilities to work," Charlotte Moore said.
"Sally has been through a long and difficult ordeal, and it is clear that Heathrow Express needs to review its equal opportunities policies," said RMT general secretary Bob Crow.
"It is particularly breathtaking that Heathrow Express treated her so badly when the injury that sparked her problems was sustained at work," Bob Crow said.
The Mental Health Foundation also published this story on their website.