A motor vehicle technician formerly employed with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust has been awarded the amount of £96,000 in damages by a tribunal.
The technician, Gordon Flemming, suffered from mental health issues and subsequently claimed that he was contemplating suicide following a heart attack in 2012 which had rendered him unable to return to work. He was dismissed from his post in 2015 for gross misconduct.
Although judges noted that Flemming was occasionally uncooperative and “difficult to manage”, the motivation to award for damages resulted from the content of covertly recorded audio of meetings regarding his dismissal. Robert Ashford, a deputy director of the trust, had made comments about “pummelling” Mr Flemming, despite being aware of his physical and mental state of health.
Furthermore, HR manager Ruth McAll (who has since left the Trust) had threatened legal action when Flemming informed her of his suicidal thoughts, claiming his letter was “not acceptable” and that she would refer any further ones to the Trust’s solicitors. Judges claimed that “in [their] combined 60 years’ judicial experience” they had “not before seen such an appalling response”.
The Trust issued an apology to Flemming for the abusive manner in which he had been treated. He was awarded over £92,000 in damages for loss of earnings and for discrimination on the basis of disability and psychiatric injury. The remainder of the compensatory amount was awarded for unfair dismissal.