A stroke victim’s campaign to prove that she was unfairly dismissed and suffered disability discrimination almost came unstuck on procedural grounds – before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) breathed new life into her compensation hopes.
The woman had gone on sick leave after suffering a stroke and claimed that she had been subjected to disability discrimination when she tried to get back to work. She was ultimately dismissed on grounds that she was no longer capable of doing her job. The ‘long and unfortunate’ history of her case had been plagued by procedural difficulties and frequent changes in legal representation.
At a preliminary hearing, an Employment Tribunal (ET) had sought clarification of the woman’s case and had put a list of questions to her which it required her to answer within 24 hours. She answered some of those questions before the deadline and provided some further information a few minutes after it had passed. Nevertheless, the ET decided that she had failed to comply and struck out her claim.
In allowing her appeal against that decision, the EAT found that the overriding requirement of justice demanded a full hearing of her case. The ET had given inadequate reasons for its decision; the woman’s former employers had sufficient information to understand the case against them and it could not be said that her claim was bound to fail.