Mental health charity discriminated against employee over her mental health, tribunal rules

The organisation has been ordered to pay £14,500 to the former worker


A mental health charity that closed this year after a last-ditch fundraiser fell short has been ordered to pay £14,500 to an employee dismissed because of her ill health.

Sea Sanctuary, which was based in Cornwall, was found by a tribunal to have discriminated against Ms F Wilkinson.

The three-person tribunal, whose report was published this week, ruled that Wilkinson was sacked in August 2021 because of her ill health, but without a disciplinary hearing.

The hearing was held on 20 and 21 February 2023, with the reserved judgement only just released.

The panel said Wilkinson’s dismissal, which followed an allegation of misconduct, was not objectively justified. 

The report said: “The respondent had a non-discriminatory alternative to dismissing the claimant in the circumstances. It should have run a written disciplinary process which would have enabled the claimant to participate in that process, rather than dismissing her on grounds of her ongoing ill health.”

The tribunal heard that Wilkinson’s mental health deteriorated in 2020 and 2021.

In a letter appealing her dismissal, Wilkinson said she was “upset” that a mental health charity had shown so little understanding of her mental health.

Sea Sanctuary said her place of employment, a children’s home, was closing at the end of 2021 and she would have been made redundant.

Wilkinson argued that she could have been redeployed.

The tribunal ruling said: “There was no dispute that the claimant had known underlying mental health issues, which we accepted were likely to have been exacerbated by [her dismissal].

“We also considered the claimant’s feelings of frustration at not having a chance to prove herself innocent of the misconduct alleged. It was evident that she suffered shock and considerable stress and anxiety due to her dismissal.”

The tribunal awarded £12,000 for injury to the claimant’s feelings, £852 for financial loss and £1,721 for interest.

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