25 May Wrongful Dismissal Cost In the Millions
We have relayed in the past the cost of wrongful dismissals and the potential cost of getting wrong, and recently a senior employee who was in ill health was awarded £2.5 million.
The employee was a director of programme/ project management at KBR a multinational engineering, procurement and construction company, He had worked at the company for 36 years.
He began experiencing health issues including skin redness and itching which affected his performance at work, and in November 2017 he was prescribed with a strong oral steroid to treat the condition. This affected his behaviour. He became hyperactive and energetic, and had difficulty sitting quietly to concentrate on work.
A series of disagreements followed, emails were exchanged concerning how he perceived his situation.
In January, Mr Barrow’s solicitor informed KBR that the claimant had been diagnosed with a rare cancer. In March 2018, Mr Barrow was invited to a meeting at KBR’s office in Leatherhead, Surrey. He was unable to attend this meeting, and one that had been rearranged for another date, due to his cancer treatment.
In May, he received a letter dismissing him with immediate effect with pay in lieu of notice. The reasons for dismissal given in the letter included concerns about how he had interacted with clients, his choice of words in emails with his superiors, and claims that he had been publicly critical of the senior leadership team.
The judgement said: the senior company manager had decided that he wanted the claimant to go, and the only way this could be done quickly was to dress it up as a breakdown in trust and confidence.
It found the dismissal had been unfair as there had been no genuine attempt to investigate the claims about his behaviour fairly, nor was he given enough detail about the allegations against him.
The tribunal ordered KBR to pay Mr Barrow £2,567,831.96, including £7,500 for aggravated damages. It said there was little doubt that the company manufactured a sham dismissal.
As we have said before, in dismissal matters take relevant professional advice before making any decisions.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.