An Asda employee who was constructively dismissed and racially harassed at work has been awarded compensation of £40,000 for injury to feelings.
Mrs S Henderson began working for Asda in 2003. She resigned in 2019 after being subjected to a 14-month campaign of racial harassment by two managers.
In 2020, after the first part of the hearing of her claim was completed, her GP prescribed anti-depressants.
The tribunal’s finding of constructive dismissal was handed down in 2021. Soon afterwards, Mrs Henderson was sectioned due to psychotic episodes. She was diagnosed with a mental health disorder that had left her unable to find re-employment.
A separate hearing was held to determine the level of compensation.
The tribunal held that in accordance with the Employment Rights Act 1996, she was awarded a basic award of £3,768 for unfair dismissal and a compensatory award of £10,886.
The tribunal also held that, where a discrimination complaint was well-founded, it had a power under the Equality Act 2010 to make an award of damages.
Such an award could include compensation for injury to feelings. In this case, an award of £40,000 was appropriate for the following reasons:
- Henderson had lost her confidence and was in a vulnerable position. She had worked for Asda for 15 years in a role that she had seen as a job for life that she wanted to fully embrace. The actions of her managers had denied her that opportunity. Her mental health had significantly declined, she was on medication and she was awaiting treatment.
- Asda had submitted that her state of health had resulted from the impact of giving evidence at trial, which should not be equated with the unlawful acts of discrimination. However, her mental state had arisen directly and naturally from those acts. There was no suggestion or evidence that she had already been suffering from her mental disorder or that other factors had led to her current state of health.
- Henderson had endured a serious and lengthy campaign of harassment, the impact of which had been profound. Her case was a serious one that justified an award in the upper of the three bands of compensation. The upper band was £26,300 to £44,000.
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