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CASE STUDY: Employee dismissed from dream career due to mental health

case study

What happened:

From a young age, John has struggled with mental health issues, which have continued to affect him in adulthood.  As a result of depression and anxiety, he can suffer from panic attacks, sleeplessness and low mood.

Despite this, in July 2018, John secured his dream role in the emergency services.  He progressed exceptionally well throughout his training.  But in April 2019, he was signed off work as his mental health had deteriorated following two family bereavements and the stress of a frontline role.

He returned to work in July 2019, and following a recommendation by Occupational Health, he returned on a phased return basis to a restricted role, which resulted in him being less public facing.

John’s restricted role continued until September 2019, when he attended a further Occupational Health review.  By this point, John had felt mounting pressure from his colleagues to return to his full operational role and so at this meeting, while feeling hopeful, he overstated his readiness to return to the frontline.

After the meeting with Occupational Health, John told his manager what he had advised in terms of his return.  His manager told him that it could well be the case that he would now need to return to the frontline immediately, rather than wait a couple of weeks for a new intake for him to join as part of his ongoing training (which is what he had hoped).

This panicked John who had not been expecting such a sudden return to the frontline.  That week he discussed this with his GP who provided him with a further sick note, requiring him to continue with his restricted duties for a further eight weeks as he was not ready to return to full duty so quickly.

A few days later, John met with his manager who was also in charge of wellbeing.  He told her that he didn’t realise he would be required to return immediately and told her that his GP had given him a further sick note.

“I want you to resign”

John’s manager responded by telling him that she wanted him to resign.  She also told John that he would not be able to be redeployed into another role because John had not been working there for two years.  John had recorded part of the meeting on his mobile phone.

John was shocked by his manager’s response.  He did not want to give up his dream career.  After the meeting, John submitted a formal grievance about the comments that were made to him; he also stated that no reasonable adjustments had been put in place.

John’s grievance was rejected.  He was told that his manager was entitled to speak to him the way that she did and that his employer did not believe he had grounds to even raise such a grievance.  John appealed this decision but felt so disheartened by the way he had been treated, on 15th October 2019, he handed in his notice as he had lost all trust and confidence by this point.

John received the outcome of his appeal on 7th November 2019; a short voicemail message was left advising him that his appeal had been rejected.

As a result, John contacted ACAS to commence the mandatory process of Early Conciliation (a requirement before a Tribunal claim can be issued).  He was told by his ACAS conciliator that his employer did not wish to engage in conciliation and the process would be shut down.


John lost his job as a result of his mental health and the way it had affected him; because he was unable to return to full duty sooner than expected, he was told that he needed to resign.

As a result, John’s mental health has deteriorated further as he has been devastated at the loss of what had been his dream career; something which he is extremely unlikely to be able to return to again.  John now works in a completely different role as a driver in the private sector.

How Morecrofts helped:

John came to Morecrofts after ACAS had informed him that his employer denied any wrongdoing in the way he had been treated.  We were able to take his case on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

As the process of Early Conciliation had finished, our next step was to help John bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal.  We therefore helped to bring a claim on John’s behalf to the Employment Tribunal against his employer for disability discrimination based on John’s depression and anxiety.

The result:

We achieved a settlement for John, which included a tax-free figure to compensate his injury to feelings amounting to over one year’s salary.

This meant John was no longer required to attend a final hearing, which would likely have been listed to take place over a number of days in 2021.  John was happy to be able to finally draw a line under what had happened to him and move on with his life.

Morecrofts Solicitor who dealt with the case:

Kelly Faulkner 

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