A former employee of a Scottish council has settled a legal action against her former employers after she won various claims at a tribunal hearing.
Valerie Gauld, a solicitor who formerly worked at Perth and Kinross Council, brought claims for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal against the council after she was sacked in March 2011 for ‘capability reasons’.
The claims came to a 12-day Employment Tribunal hearing last year, with Ms Gauld and other current and former employees of the council giving evidence. Ms Gauld, who had started working for the council in 2008, gave evidence that she had suffered from cancer and that her performance had deteriorated as a result of her condition and that, as a result, she became anxious and withdrawn. As a result of her increased stress levels and her drop in performance, Ms Gauld’s relationship with her line manager, Mrs Whiteford, deteriorated and she was dismissed in March 2011 because of her conduct towards Mrs Whiteford.
The Employment Tribunal found that Perth and Kinross Council had unfairly dismissed Mrs Gauld by basing the decision to dismiss her on facts that were incorrect. Further, the tribunal, chaired by Employment Judge Hendy, found that the council had discriminated against Mrs Gauld under s.15 (discrimination arising from disability) and s.20 (failure to make reasonable adjustments) of the Equality Act 2010.
The case was due to return to the Employment Tribunal this month for a ‘remedies hearing’ but Perth and Kinross Council agreed to settle Mrs Gauld’s claim for compensation with taking the case to a further hearing. The amount of the settlement is confidential, but it is likely to have been substantial and to have incorporated sums to account for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.
Mrs Gauld appears not to have commented on the settlement, although it is likely that she would be constrained from doing so by the terms of the settlement agreement that she would have reached with the council.
A Perth and Kinross spokeswoman commented on the case: “We are disappointed that our appeal against the original ruling was not successful and do not think it appropriate to comment any further.”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Employers have duties under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against by employees and, in particular must make efforts to prevent discrimination arising as a consequence of disability and must make reasonable adjustments for cancer-sufferers. A failure to do so may render the employer liable for discrimination and/or unfair dismissal.”