NatWest Executive Awarded £90k In Compensation After Dismissal Following Cancer Treatment

Employment Tribunal Compensation Limits

A NatWest executive has been awarded £90,000 in compensation after she was dismissed just days after undergoing cancer surgery.

Adeline Willis’ tribunal claim in February 2022 against the bank was labelled as being “tainted with discrimination.” Willis was successful in her claim for unfair dismissal and her additional claim for disability discrimination was partly successful.

Case background

Willis’ job role was a senior risk and compliance professional and she had been seconded to a job in operational continuity after her previous job role had been made redundant. However, the secondment was based in Edinburgh and Willis was based in London. Willis was led to believe that the job may be relocated, but this was not approved.

In August 2019, Willis was diagnosed with colon cancer. She let her manager know that she would work from home on days when she had hospital scans and treatment. During this time, Willis’ line manager changed which the tribunal saw as unfavourable treatment.

After an operation in 2020, Willis was told she required daily chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The tribunal was informed that her manager sought advice from the HR department regarding terminating her secondment early due to her work being “too critical”.

Willis joined a weekly meeting from home after receiving her treatment and she was informed by her former line manager that she was no longer needed. The bank argued that this was meant to be supportive and to cut down on the amount of work she had. However, Willis said this made her feel humiliated.

Prior to her operation, Willis put in a request for an extension to her secondment under the Equality Act 2010 as a reasonable adjustment. However, her previous manager informed her she should not be looking for more roles and that this was “ridiculous”.

Willis missed out on her end-of-year review and also received her lowest-ever bonus from the bank.

The bank’s HR department had been discussing the chance of extending Willis’ secondment while she was undergoing treatment. According to relevant documents it was understood that there was no role after the end of the post and “it was not expected that she would ever come back to work”. However, Willis managed to receive a one-month extension on the grounds of compassion and was advised that her employment would terminate on 4 April 2020.

When Willis was recovering she started to look for other roles at the bank. However, she was unable to secure anything and her role was terminated in April.

With regard to the compensation, the tribunal said that it was:

“satisfied that [Willis] was extremely hurt by those actions which we have found to be discriminatory”.

The tribunal awarded Willis £35,000 for injury to feelings, meaning her total compensation was £87,699.84, which included loss of earnings.

A spokesperson for NatWest said:

“We are sorry that there were things the bank did not get right and where we fell short of the standards our colleagues expect. We recognise the extremely difficult personal circumstances in this case and have taken steps to ensure this cannot happen again.”

How can we help?NatWest Executive Awarded Compensation

Kate Frisby is an Associate in our expert Employment Law team, specialising in performance management, drafting of policies and contracts, settlement agreement negotiations and assisting with claims in the Employment Tribunal.

For advice on or further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Kate or another member of the team in DerbyLeicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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