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Leila Taleb successful on liability in unfair dismissal and disability discrimination case against Secretary of State

On 9th January Leila Taleb represented a Claimant in a s15 disability discrimination and an unfair dismissal claim against the Secretary of State for Justice.

The Claimant worked as an Operational Support Grade (OSG) at HMP Moorland for approximately 17 years. She suffered from anxiety and depression which was considered a ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010. The Respondent was aware of her disability. After periods of absence relating to her disability, the Respondent dismissed her on 18th November 2022.
The Tribunal heard from three witnesses including the Claimant and concluded that both claims were well-founded.
The questions the Tribunal had to consider were whether the Respondent acted reasonably by dismissing the Claimant in the circumstances and whether dismissing the Claimant was a proportionate means of achieving the following legitimate aims:
  1. maintaining a fair, effective and transparent absence policy
  2. fulfilling its statutory duty of maintaining a safe secure environment for those serving custodial sentences and protecting the public.
The Tribunal found that dismissing the Claimant was not a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims and was not reasonable in the circumstances. They found that there was no good reason as to why the Respondent couldn’t wait for Claimant to continue her counselling. Recruiting 6 people would have been a more proportionate measure. The Tribunal also found that mediation between management and the Claimant was not properly considered and there was no good reason advanced. The administration role (alternative role available for the Claimant) required better consideration.
The ET found that the Respondent ought not to have dismissed her. It was unfair. They could have waited longer, potentially re-deployed her and the absence policy was not properly applied.
The compensation award that the Claimant is anticipated to receive will be adjudicated on at the end of April 2024 at the remedy hearing, subject to whether both parties settle beforehand.


Leila has a growing employment practise. She has received instructions to represent both claimants and respondents and has instructed across all levels of the litigation process from preliminary and interlocutory hearings to final hearings. She has acted in claims involving unfair dismissal, discrimination (disability, race, sex), unlawful deduction of wages and breach of contract. She has also acted in preliminary hearings concerning points of law, for example employee status and issues of limitation.

If you would like to instruct Leila, please contact one of her clerks: