A trainee accountant who suffered from epilepsy was told to “show gratitude” to those who covered her work while she was on sick leave.
Iman Barakat, who worked for Alvis & Company’s accountants in Hampton, London, received an official warning from bosses after having a seizure and was rushed to hospital.
Her premium was also reduced from £ 7,000 to £ 750 due to the period during which she had stopped working.
She has now won complaints of victimization, disability-related harassment, unfavorable treatment, unfair dismissal and unfair dismissal in labor court.
Ms Barakat said her managers had shown no empathy and that some even refused to believe that she really had epilepsy, despite having a seizure in front of them.
She is now awaiting compensation after the court ruled that her bosses’ actions “were intended to violate Ms. Barakat’s dignity and create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her.”
Ms. Barakat started working for the company as a trainee accountant in 2016, and suffered from epilepsy and chronic migraines since childhood.
Her seizures started again while working for the accountants, so she told bosses about her illnesses six months after she started.
In October 2018, Ms. Barakat had a seizure at home one day without realizing it and burned her leg with her hair straightener.
Later that same day, she had a 10-minute epileptic seizure at work which some of her co-workers witnessed.
She was then absent from work for a month after the burn became infected, and she said when she returned she felt guilty.
Bosses James Bolger and Brian Mason said her colleagues complained that she was receiving “special treatment”, told her she was “ungrateful” and that she should show “empathy” for those who covered her.
In December 2018 and January 2019, she had epileptic seizures and was unable to make herself sick as she was rushed to hospital.
She said her bosses didn’t give her a chance to explain why she couldn’t call and that she received official written warnings each time.
In an email to the company describing her concerns about the treatment of her bosses, Ms Barakat said: “I was on leave due to a third degree burn that was permanently disfiguring me and [they] never failed to make me forget the impact she had on “the team”.
‘Corn [they] had no empathy or interest in me and the attitude that I am somehow in control of my condition.
‘[They] asked if i was epileptic, but i had a seizure before [them] – the resentment and disbelief of my condition is shocking and insulting.
“As an employer, you have a duty to protect me from such harassment and you haven’t.
“You participated and allowed people to talk about me while you yourself relayed it to me.
‘[They] implied that I delayed a medical report due to “something out there that I didn’t want you to know” that suggested I was lying about something to do with my condition. ‘
After her complaints, the bosses told her they would demand a medical report on her condition, then fired her.
Their motives were that Ms Barakat had not “accepted responsibility for certain matters” and had “attempted to lay the blame on others”.
But the court ruled that she was in fact fired over her discrimination complaints, sickness absences and concerns that her colleagues were talking about her.
Judge Antony Hyams-Parish said: “The court found that [the employers] Constantly criticizing Ms. Barakat and asking her to empathize with her colleagues was undesirable behavior.
“This was intended to undermine Ms. Barakat’s dignity and create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her.”
She also won a claim that her bosses failed to make reasonable adjustments for her illness because she was not allowed to work from home.
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