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That sickly feeling when ill health leads to disciplinary allegations.

Published 30 March 2017

It is almost inevitable that if you continue working while emotionally distressed things will eventually go wrong.

Social care sector worker Leah suffered with depression and anxiety and was also diagnosed with psychosis.

Leah’s North East-based employer knew she had been diagnosed with depression over a year earlier. When things got worse she was left facing 13 different disciplinary allegations.

Leah contacted Castle Associates for help and was desperate to keep her job, but believed dismissal was inevitable.

She admitted many of the allegations, but felt her deteriorating mental health was the major contributory factor. Leah was willing to accept any type of disciplinary warning if it meant she could return to work.

When our representative was presented with the evidence it was, and remains, the most allegations he has ever had to deal with in one case.

The wide ranging allegations included falsifying and forging documents, making inappropriate comments to colleagues and not responding when on-call.

When Leah was invited to attend an investigation meeting to establish the facts of the case, she was honest and open about her mental health problems.

A disciplinary hearing took place four months after the investigation meeting. By this time Leah had finally been prescribed effective medication, her condition had improved significantly and she had obtained detailed medical reports.

Our representative highlighted that the employer was fully aware Leah was diagnosed with depression over 12 months earlier, and as it was long lasting it may be considered a disability in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. The company - despite having a duty of care for all of its employees - had never sought medical opinion, offered any support or discussed any reasonable adjustments.

Our representative was also able to show that Leah had made the company fully aware during the investigation meeting of her mental health problems and diagnosis of psychosis. However, the company had ignored this and not sought any medical opinion or offered any support.

Our representative provided a comprehensive response to all of the allegations. He maintained that although Leah admitted many of the allegations there was significant mitigation, which included: her mental health; medication problems which had now been addressed; and that she had 10 years’ service and a clean disciplinary record.

The employer dismissed nine of the allegations but upheld four and issued Leah with a written warning.

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