From time to time we tell you about a Birmingham employment law case we have recently dealt with. Our other stories are here. This is the story of Dav.

Dav drove HGVs for 15 years with the same company. A few years ago he started suffering health problems and his employer re-assigned him temporarily to a different role.

He was diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a condition that interrupts breathing during sleep. Left untreated, this can cause the patient to fall asleep during the day.  Once the diagnosis was made, his doctors notified DVLA, who suspended his driving licence  until it could be treated. He was treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, to be used whilst he was sleeping. After his doctors signed off that it was working, he was allowed to resume driving by the DVLA.

A couple of years later, at a routine hospital review, he learned that he had been using the machine slightly wrongly and again the doctors told the DVLA.

However, this time, his employer had had enough. He was sacked on the spot.

Dav searched for employment solicitors in Birmingham. Employment law was on his side. It is unfair dismissal to sack someone with more than two years’ service without following a procedure. Sacking someone on the spot is no procedure at all and in his case that would lead to £5k in compensation.

But he could also expect to receive a large award / settlement if he could show that dismissal was also unfair in practice. This would be the case if the decision to dismiss would have been the same, even after a proper procedure.  In that case he could expect to obtain compensation for a reasonable period of lost income.

And because sleep apnoea is a medical condition that qualifies as a disability, the actions of the employer drove a coach and horses through the Equality Act’s employment law protections for the disabled, amounting to discrimination. The dismissal was discrimination for a reason relating to his disability, that reason being the suspension of his licence.

He came to us for employment law advice and we offered to take his case on a no-win, no-fee agreement, which would entitle him to legal advice all the way to trial at no cost if it was unsuccessful.

The employer’s only real argument was that without his licence, if Dav had no income if wasn’t because he was dismissed (the employer’s fault) but because couldn’t get a new job with his medical condition (not the employer’s fault). They would still have to pay compensation but not as much. So Dav worked very hard to chase the hospital and DVLA to get a clean bill of health and his licence back, which took away this argument.

We had to issue a claim to do it but we secured a settlement for just under £20k. The employer learned a valuable lesson that day.

Our clients agree to the use of their stories in this Birmingham employment law series but names are changed for anonymity.

By Jason Harbourne

Image courtesy of Sally Butcher, used under CC