Case study: client alleging bullying and harassment at work secures settlement agreement of almost £100,000

Summary

How Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, represented a client in a case of bullying and harassment in the workplace, securing a settlement of almost £100,000 for the client.

Situation

Tessa (not her real name) worked for an energy company. She suffered from a number of mental impairments (including bipolar disorder) and became unhappy at work after perceiving that she was being bullied and harassed by her colleagues because of issues caused by her mental health impairments – this included a failure to adjust their expectations and attitude towards her (to account for her mental health impairments), complaints being made when Tessa took medication at her desk, and failing to deal with Tessa fairly when she suffered a bipolar disorder relapse.

Tessa was extremely concerned with the organisation’s conduct and contacted Redmans to see if she could obtain some specialist legal help. She spoke to Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, as well as Sacha Barrett (Senior Associate in the employment team).

What we did

When Tessa contacted the employment team at Redmans she wanted to see what could be done about her situation at work – she was incredibly stressed by the organisation’s conduct towards her and wanted to see how the situation could be remedied. Tessa was convinced that the only option available to her was to leave the organisation so that she could remove herself from what she found to be a toxic environment.

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, discussed Tessa’s matter with her and helped her with her case.

Chris explained to Tessa that the bulling conduct that she had been subjected to could form the basis for a constructive dismissal claim, and that the organisation’s conduct towards her relevant to her mental health impairments could constitute disability-related harassment, a failure to make reasonable adjustments, and discrimination arising from disability.

Chris and Sacha helped Tessa to draft a letter of complaint (also known as a grievance letter) setting out her concerns regarding the conduct that she had been subjected to. Chris and Sacha also drafted a formal letter from Redmans to Tessa’s employer (a ‘without prejudice’ settlement letter) setting out Tessa’s potential claims and the value of settlement that Tessa was seeking in order to settle her claims (as well as various other benefits such as the payment of her legal costs and the provision of a reference by the organisation to a prospective employer).

The result

After a short period of negotiation spanning over a number of months with the business it was agreed that Tessa would be given a confidential settlement package, including the payment of her notice pay, an ex-gratia (tax-free) payment of almost £80,000, a substantial sum in respect of accrued but untaken holiday,  mutual confidentiality clauses, the payment of a substantial sum towards Tessa’s legal costs, and the provision of an agreed reference by Tessa’s employers after she left. Settlement agreement terms were subsequently agreed and signed between Tessa and her employer.

Chris Hadrill, the partner at Redmans who assisted Tessa with her case, commented: “If employers bully and harass employees in the workplace then they potentially face time-consuming and expensive Employment Tribunal claims from the relevant employees. In this case, Tessa’s employer failed to carefully consider the impact of her bipolar disorder on her ability to undertake day-to-day activities in the workplace, and she was also subject to unnecessary and discriminatory comments regarding her taking medication in the workplace. Although settlement terms were agreed with her employer, Tessa should not have been subjected to this conduct in the first place.”