Employee with depression awarded £35,000 in discrimination case

A man who suffered from depression was discriminated against by his employers when his request for flexible working hours was denied.

That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and one of its case workers, Mr Chris Hargreaves.

Mr Hargreaves had been on flexible hours but after he had arrived late on several occasions and mis-logged his hours, it was agreed that he would switch to fixed hours. 

Over the next four months he had a series of absences due to depression. He was given a written warning after an investigation found he had breached the standards of behaviour by repeatedly failing to attend work at the required time.

The following month, his fixed hours were relaxed, and he told the DWP that his medication was being changed and that he was starting cognitive behavioural therapy.

He requested to be put back on flexible hours and his cognitive behavioural therapist said he was ‘in a different place in his life’ than he had been when he was previously on flexible hours.  

The therapist noted that most of Mr Hargreaves’ colleagues were on flexible hours.

However, the request was declined and the DWP later dismissed him for gross misconduct, alleging 43 instances of incorrectly recorded hours and failing to attend work on time or leaving work early.

Mr Hargreaves brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in his favour.

It said the DWP had a duty to make reasonable adjustments as Mr Hargreaves had requested to work flexible hours.

He had been discriminated against as he was treated unfavourably compared to his colleagues and was awarded £35,677.

Case details

Mr C Hargreaves v Department for Work and Pensions: Case No: 1807192/2017
Employment Tribunal June 2018
Judge Keevash

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