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Date published

20 December 2018

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How it all started

I had worked for a large retail outlet for 6 years before taking sick leave in November 2016 because of progressive arthritis in my hands. As store manager I was still required to do heavy lifting and climbing. By January I requested a return to work on light duties but was refused. They said they wanted to wait until I had seen my doctor and been assessed. At no time did the medical profession advise not working. However to claim my SSP I had no choice but to send in a not fit to work note. My employer said they needed this to process my SSP. ( I had received only 2 weeks contractual sick pay). By June I was increasingly frustrated and anxious to return to work. There was lots I could do and asked for support to aid my return. They refused saying it was too costly. A year later in November 2017 they sent me to an OHS doctor for assessment. He said I was fit for light duties. My employer still refused my return until I took legal advice and challenged them. In February 2018 they invited me to return but with no concessions that would enable me to do my job. They were asked to lower the trading stock with was unreachable even with ladders The stock room breached health and safety with unsecured shelving and very high stock (a later health and safety inspection confirmed my statement and the stock room was refitted to comply after my resignation). And only 10 hours extra staffing was offered to enable me to get through the large amount of tasks that needed to be completed with no extra time allowance. I took more advice and was told I had a case for constructive unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. I hired a solicitor and claimed constructive unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. In March I had accrued £1000 in legal fees and my legal representative offered them an early settlement of £31,000 . They didn’t negotiate but simply said no. Fast forward to December 2018 and a court date of 8th of December. On the 6th they made a settlement offer of £20,000 my solicitor advised accepting this offer because of the risk of litigation but I refused. My legal bill was now £15,500 and I had borrow the money from my partner and paid up front and in full. They then offered £30,000 I refused against my solicitors advice and counter offered 45 which almost covered the legal costs I had incurred since we offered settlement of £31,000 back in March they refused so on Monday 8th we took the claim to court. Our barrister cost £3,600 (cost already included) I had paid for my court date so decided to go ahead despite pressure from my solicitor to settle on their previous offer. My barrister advised me to drop the disability claim. He said unless they had actually admitted they didn’t want to employ me because of my disability then I probably wouldn’t win. He advised my unfair dismissal claim was strong giving a 60/40 chance of winning . He told me there were 3 elements to the claim Unfair dismissal Loss of earnings Injury to feelings He said if we won on every element my award would not be 100% of claim It would amount to approx 2/3s of the amount claimed which he estimated to be approx award of £38,000. He advised negotiating in that region. We settled without going into court on £37,500. The money was transferred into my account yesterday minus another £1,500 claimed in legal costs by my solicitor. I had to sign a confidentiality clause at the point of settlement. I lost two years salary and have little prospect of future employment because of my age and disability. And from my settlement award I have to pay back the £16,000 I borrowed.

What I did to try to overcome it

I took legal advice and legal action.

How it made me feel

Very low and depressed and worthless. I lost confidence.

The outcome

I settled out of court.

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