A former employee of estate agents Chestertons who suffered from anxiety and depression after a viral illness has had her claims thrown out by a tribunal.
The former employee had worked as a senior renewals consultant between November 2014 and July 2018. She went on to claim disability discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal. She had alleged harassment and victimisation.
Ms S Adewale’s claims – some of which were said to be out of time – were examined by the tribunal in central London, which unanimously rejected them.
The case highlighted a number of issues, including whether she had been “too stressful to manage”, and her flexible working, including being allowed to go home early and work from home at times. Chestertons had accepted that she was disabled, within the meaning of legislation.
Ms Adewale, who had been described as an excellent worker, became ill with a viral infection in July 2017. From then on she struggled with her health, said the tribunal.
She was subsequently signed off with anxiety and stress in January 2018 but returned to work the following month, and was given some work flexibility.
The tribunal looked at evidence, including claims that Ms Adewale had misused her flexible arrangements whereby she worked from home.
It was alleged that the claimant had been accused of not been working from home one Monday “but was hung-over from partying over the weekend”, according to the papers.
However, this was not true: Ms Adewale had actually been in hospital for a disability-related reason.
On another occasion a colleague said to her: “Look at you going home, part-timer?”
In fact, she had permission to leave earlier than her colleagues because of insomnia caused by her disability.
A team meeting was held in which her colleagues were told about her mental health condition. According to the tribunal papers, Ms Adewale was happy that the team had been informed.
However, a complaint was subsequently received from a customer about her. The complaint was discussed, and the concern raised that Ms Adeware was falling behind with her work.
At the end of this meeting, she resigned; she was offered an alternative role, although the tribunal says it was not clear whether she accepted this.
According to the papers, Ms Adewale fell further behind with her work, and she was warned about her failure “to reply to people”.
She was then told that it would be better if she left immediately – that day – and was paid in lieu of notice.
Her manager at Chestertons said that the claimant had thanked and hugged her, although Ms Adewale could not remember this.
The line manager emailed HR to say that both were relieved and the claimant herself had admitted that her in-box was in a mess.
However, Ms Adewale told the tribunal that she had been treated differently by her colleagues after she returned to work, and felt harassed and bullied.
The tribunal accepted that she had been called a ‘part-timer’. It was not satisfied that her complaints about being unfairly treated by her team were because of her depression.
The tribunal also considered the case against “protected” circumstances – law which protects employees against discrimination.
The tribunal said that Chestertons had tried to manage the claimant through a very difficult period for her, and did not find its treatment of her to have been unfair or unreasonable.
According to a Linkedin profile, graduate Sarah Adewale was at Chestertons for almost four years and before that at Foxtons as lettings negotiator.