Firm which sacked office manager ordered to pay €46,000 compensation

Woman with an incurable degenerative disease sacked while on sick leave

Adjudication officer at the Workplace Relations Commission  Stephen Bonnlander found  delay in Natasha  Lawson’s return to work as a result of a road accident did not give the employer a right to terminate her employment or to withdraw its previous offer of reasonable accommodation in the form of a phased return to work. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Adjudication officer at the Workplace Relations Commission Stephen Bonnlander found delay in Natasha Lawson’s return to work as a result of a road accident did not give the employer a right to terminate her employment or to withdraw its previous offer of reasonable accommodation in the form of a phased return to work. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A software firm which sacked an office manager with an incurable degenerative disease while she was on sick leave has been ordered to pay her €46,000 in compensation.

In the case at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Core Computer Consultants Limited – CoreHR has been ordered to pay Natasha Lawson €23,000 after the WRC found the firm carried out a discriminatory dismissal against the woman.

In his decision, adjudication officer at the WRC, Stephen Bonnlander also ordered the firm to pay Ms Lawson an additional €23,000 for its refusal to make a reasonable accommodation of her disability in the workplace.

Mr Bonnlander stated the joint award takes cognisance of the hardship Ms Lawson experienced as a result of losing her job and also the overall unreasonableness of the employer’s conduct and in particular, the manner in which it dismissed Ms Lawson by phone.

Mr Bonnlander found the delay in Ms Lawson’s return to work as a result of a road accident did not give the employer a right to terminate her employment or to withdraw its previous offer of reasonable accommodation in the form of a phased return to work.

Ms Lawson lives with fibromyalgia, an incurable degenerative disease and disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep and memory issues and had been with the firm since 2015.

Ms Lawson said she wasn’t give a right of appeal and was not told that her job was at risk.

She stated her dismissal really “knocked her back”, personally and in terms of her career aspirations and that it also caused her and her husband considerable financial hardship.

In its defence, CoreHR stated it could not hold Ms Lawson’s position indefinitely and disputes that it did not offer reasonable accommodation to her.

In his findings, Mr Bonnlander stated he found Ms Lawson to be an honest and credible witness throughout and accepted her evidence in its entirety.