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Lucy Bone wins award of £2,567,831 in second largest ever disability discrimination award

29.04.21

Lucy Bone acted for David Barrow against his former employer Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd in his claim for disability discrimination. Lucy first advised in January 2018 when Mr Barrow had been excluded from the workplace following an email sent while under the effects of steroids prescribed for his skin cancer. The claim proceeded to full trial and remedy hearing and included a claim for aggravated damages based on evidence disclosed during the liability hearing.

Liability Hearing

At the liability hearing, cross examination revealed undisclosed documents, destroyed evidence and significant procedural defects. Lucy’s questioning uncovered a secret meeting attended by KBR’s Senior VP for EMEA, the HR Director for EMEA and KBR’s in-house Senior Counsel at which the decision to dismiss was confirmed.

The tribunal upheld the complaints of discrimination arising from disability and harassment. It rejected KBR’s case that Mr Barrow had breached trust and confidence, and held that the internal process was a sham and a ruse to dismiss Mr Barrow. Further, it found that the dismissing officer’s only role had been to deliver the decision made at the secret meeting. In finding that the defects in the procedure were unlawful harassment, the tribunal found that the prescribed effect under s. 26 (1) (b) was the purpose of KBR’s conduct.

The Award

The tribunal awarded £2,567,831.97 – one of the highest damages awards for discrimination and the second largest award for disability discrimination. The tribunal accepted that career-long loss should be awarded, with reductions for contingencies, as Mr Barrow was 60 years old at the time of dismissal and had worked at KBR for 36 years. As well as injury to feelings, the tribunal awarded £25,000 for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity.

The tribunal was in little doubt that this was an appropriate case for aggravated damages assessed at £7,500, to reflect the manner in which KBR treated Mr Barrow, knowing full well he was disabled. In addition, the tribunal applied an uplift pursuant to s.207A TULRCA, and, in view of the high overall level of damages, set this at 8%.

A further interesting aspect of the case arose from an order for specific disclosure of document relating to the non-payment of bonus. The tribunal considered that there were difficulties in the way KBR had responded to specific disclosure, and made an order that it produce an Affidavit of compliance.

The liability judgment can be found here.

Lucy Bone was instructed by Anita Vadgama at Didlaw

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