Age and Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

JOLLY –V- ROYAL BERKSHIRE NHS TRUST Case in Reading

We acted for Mrs Eileen Jolly in her successful claim against Royal Berkshire NHS Trust for unfair dismissal, age discrimination and disability discrimination. The Media dubbed Mrs Jolly the oldest ever claimant. Whether or not that is true we cannot say, but as an octogenarian Mrs Jolly is almost certainly one of the oldest:- Eileen Jolly v Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

 

Mrs Jolly started working for the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust in 1991 aged 61. During her 25 years’ service she held several posts including that of Medical Secretary to a Consultant for 10 years.

 

In 2015 following changes she was given a new job title of Patient Pathway Coordinator. She was given a bit of training but it was inadequate and she continued to carry out many of her original duties as a Medical Secretary.

 

In September 2016 Mrs Jolly was told she was being investigated for 3 breaches of duty and she was escorted off the premises. Later Mrs Jolly was informed that she was being investigated under the Hospital’s Capability Procedure. Mrs Jolly was invited to a meeting at short notice. She wanted to bring her trade union representative with her. The representative was unavailable. Mrs Jolly asked for a postponement until after her pre-booked holiday. The Hospital refused and set a new date a few days later, which neither Mrs Jolly or her trade union representative could attend. The Hospital refused to postpone the meeting again and insisted she answer a list of written questions during her holiday.

 

Mrs Jolly was invited to a formal meeting under the Capability Procedure and was accused of being responsible for “multiple patient breaches”, and warned that she could be dismissed. The Hospital’s Capability Procedure provided that an individual could be dismissed without prior warnings if there was a “catastrophic failure in performance”. Mrs Jolly submitted a grievance and claimed that she was being discriminated against because of her age. She said that she hadn’t been trained properly and referred to the fact that her Consultant was happy with her work. The Hospital did not deal with her grievance in accordance with its own procedures and went on to dismiss her. Mrs Jolly appealed but the Trust failed to deal with her appeal.

 

Mrs Jolly claimed that she had been subjected to age and disability discrimination and that she had been unfairly dismissed.

Mrs Jolly was successful in all her claims. The Tribunal found that assumptions that the Hospital made about her age and health were the driving force behind the dismissal.

The Tribunal specifically found that Mrs Jolly had been treated less favourably than a younger person or a person who did not have her disabilities. The Tribunal agreed with Mrs Jolly’s view that she had been made a scapegoat for wider failures at the Hospital.

 

The decision on compensation has yet to be made. That will take place in October 2019. In the meantime Mrs Jolly has at least gone some way to restoring her good name although nothing will bring back the career she loved.

 

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