Over £470k in compensation for unfair dismissal claim
Back in October we reported on the case on Mr C Borg-Neal v Lloyds Banking Group PLC which examined how context can make all the difference in determining whether a dismissal was fair or unfair. The employment tribunal (ET) has now awarded over £407k in compensation for the unfair dismissal claim.
Dismissed for gross misconduct
By way of background, during a race education training event, Mr Borg-Neal asked how he should handle a situation where he heard someone from an ethnic minority use a word that might be considered offensive. He proceeded to reference the N word, using the full word rather than the abbreviation. Mr Borg-Neal was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct on the basis that he should have known better than to use the full word in a professional environment and should have realised that it could have serious impact.
The ET found his dismissal to be unfair in the circumstances. Had the word been used in a different context, the ET’s findings may have been different. It found that no reasonable employer would have dismissed Mr Borg-Neal in those circumstances. While the employer was reasonable to hold the view that the full N word was appalling and should be avoided in a professional environment, the word had not been used as a term of abuse towards anyone or to describe anyone.
Discrimination arising from disability
The ET also upheld a claim of discrimination arising from disability. The evidence led the ET to believe that Mr Borg-Neal’s dyslexia was a strong factor in causing how he expressed himself, for example, to ‘spurt’ things out before he lost his train of thought.
Following the remedies hearing, the ET has awarded Mr Borg-Neal over £470,000 in compensation plus interest and tax. This included a sum of £309,867.86 for future loss of earnings and a 5% uplift for the employer’s failure to follow the Acas code. Mr Borg-Neal was found not fit to work due to the mental ill-health caused by his dismissal. Further, given he would be 61 by the time he was fit to work, he would have difficulty finding a further role. He was also awarded £15,000 for injury to feelings, a further £3,000 in aggravated damages and £23,000 for personal injury in relation to his severe depression and anxiety which had been triggered by his dismissal.
Need support with your HR?
Our support means you can focus on education, while we take care of your organisation’s HR needs.
The equality section of our CEFMi website contains policies and information on equality issues. Get a free trial of CEFMi – a comprehensive resource for school managers containing over 7,000 pages of text, including over 170 policies written specifically for schools.