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Disciplinary action being taken

Hello All,

I am new to the board and would like some advise and opinions on or situation. I’ll keep it as brief as I can.

My husband has RRMS, he was diagnosed about 8 years ago. He started off having one relapse a year and managing his symptoms quite well but over the last couple of years, his relapses have become more frequent (3 - 4 per year). I know he has a daily struggle with his symptoms but he plods on and manages (sometimes only just) with his quite stressful job as an account manager, which involves sales and a lot of travel.

His employer found out by accident about his condition about 18 months ago (my husband was petrified of them finding out but I had been encouraging him to tell them). Anyway, on the face of it, they have been fantastic. The have been understanding if he has had time of due to relapses, hospital appointments etc), have arranged appointments with an OT etc etc. His line manager has phoned me personally to say not to worry, my husband has the company’s full support.

Over the last 6 months, his relapses have definitely become more frequent and he has noticed a progression of his MS.During this period, he as been undergoing test for some new treatment (Gilenya (fingolimod)), which his employer is aware of. To be fair, he has had limited time off work (perhaps 3 - 4 weeks per year total).

He was signed off work for 2 weeks early May due to a relapse and had 2 weeks annual leave for the first 2 weeks in June.

When he returned to work on the Monday after his annual leave, his line manager arranged a meeting for that day, stating that there were various things he wasn’t happy with regarding my husbands performance. The had an all day meeting discussing the issues, which mainly involve the merchandising of his accounts and how things weren’t being done properly. At this point I will state that 1) he achieved his most recent growth target and received a bonus for this 2) has been given a pay rise with effect from 1st July.

A couple of days later he received a letter inviting him to a disciplinary hearing in Wales, which he duly attended. At this meeting he was asked to explain why his role wasn’t being carried out to the standard that the company expected and if it was to do with his MS. They said that the OT has passed him as fit for work so this shouldn’t be an issue. My husband explained that MS isn’t just physical and that it does cause problems with his memory etc.

His employer also discussed asked him if he wished to reduce his hours (which my husband declined) and said that they would look into buying him an automatic car to aid his driving.On paper, don’t they look like a supportive employer?!

Well yesterday he got a Final written warning through the post! Apparently that was the outcome of the hearing! Its going to stay on file for 12 months. If he doesn’t improve in line with the performance review, he will be dismissed!

They clearly do not understand the impact that stress has on MS! M por hubby has to have this over his head for a whole year!

I just wondered if someone outside the situation could give their view on whether this is fair (& lawful) treatment? My gut feeling tells me that the are trying to dismiss him before his condition deteriorates further.

Has anyone else with MS been though a disciplinary prodedure?

Sory if he above is a bit garbled - I’m so worried - and angry at his employer!

Hi Kib I don’t have a diagnosis as yet but I think you should seek advice from citizens advice or a union should your hubby be a member of one. For one thing was he told he could have someone with him at a meeting of this type he should have had support. They don’t seem to be consistant in their view of your husband but I think you should get some legal /employment adivce sooner than later Sorry he is going through this it is one added stress he can do without. Sue

I agree with Sue - this is far too complex to get your advice only/mainly from a forum. I’ve studied law, but never specialised in employment law, so still don’t know.

Very briefly, even if someone is ill/disabled, there will still be certain minimum standards of the job that have to be met. But everything depends on whether they have behaved reasonably in helping your husband to meet those standards, and/or whether they have any discretion over the standards. For example, if something was a legal requirement, they obviously can’t make exceptions on the basis someone is ill. However, if it’s just a company or departmental target, they might have discretion to lower the bar a little, for someone who is known to be struggling.

Mistakes are a difficult issue. If he’s getting things wrong and it’s costing them money - or damaging their reputation with clients, say - they can’t really be expected to turn a blind eye to something that’s damaging them, even if it’s not the employee’s fault.

They could, however, suggest a change of duties to something where it’s not as critical - but of course, your husband might not like that, or agree to it.

It’s a hard one. Personally, I think I’d rather accept lesser responsibilities, but know I can manage them OK, than stick with the same responsibilities, but live in fear that my slip-ups are causing problems.

Tina

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As others have said far too important to rely from what someone says on a forum. Get in touch with the experts; EHRC http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/about-us/devolved-authorities/the-commission-in-wales for some reason I thought you came from Wales? If not contact the English number.

Good luck.

George

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I would say get advice asap. Citizen Advice are good - they’ve recently been really helpful to me. Also, some solicitors will give a free half hour consultation - if you go for that option make sure you have all the paperwork to hand as the time goes really quickly. They should have told your husband that he could have someone with him at the disciplinary meeting…

Tina’s response says a lot of what I would say too. One final thought - if the effects of stress is making your husband’s condition worse, he could be signed off by the GP to give some ‘breathing space’.

Please get proper advice and remember that the law is supportive of disabled people in work.

Hazel

Hi

I got valuable (and free) help from the Disability Law Service - the MS Society funds a specialist lawyer there who was really helpful around employment matters - just call 0207 791 9800.

Best wishes

David

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Two things i know with regard to MS and how it affects me (and how it affects me only and so brace yourself for the following to be completely irrelevant to the above posts, but…):

  • i need my sleep
  • i do not need stress

i assure you, i am all for being one for fighting the good fight (ask me about the illegality of cannabis), but long road trips and a angst ridden job (even when not contending with efforts to dismiss you,) could ultimately be the reason for why relapses have become more frequent and why symptoms are accumulating to the point of being impairments. is this work worth fighting for when all is considered?

the employers sound like they are exploiting grey areas and loop holes etc and i fear that any future fight will be an effort in futility which will ultimately result in further MS related issues.

a life’s work and career aspirations are tough things from walk away from, but one needs to consider if they are truly worth their inherent costs; the strain, the frustration, the agony, the anger, the frequent relapses, the disabling symptoms.

i am not saying this is a fool’s battle. i am not saying you should give up and fade away. I am just suggesting that sometimes the costs outweigh the benefits and one should take care to fight only the battles they could win.

the very best of luck. i sincerely hope the good guys prevail. don’t let the bastards grind you down!

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Hi, I was going to mention something along the lines of what Paolo Smythe said. I know stress effects me and my MS and also anxiety. I get relapses when I am stressed and anxious. I too need my sleep.

Hey klb1980,

How are yer?

Pretty much agreeing with the above. Seems to me they’re trying to get him out by outwardly ‘doing the right thing’, but then going their own way to get rid of the problem. I walked away from my once awesome job a year ago. The husband had just joined the business, and brought his corporate, arsehole attitude with him, which was the opposite of everything the business stood for. Promised the earth to all staff, delivered nothing to anyone who wouldn’t sell their grandmothers for a bag of carrots. When I wouldn’t play ball, they made me redundant to ‘prove a point’. I think they never thought i’d accept, and shat themselves when I did. They withdrew the offer two days before a was set to meet the solicitor. ‘Review it in six months’. Yes, they reviewed something all right. I’d gone and got a better job, more pay, less hours, less stress. And when the big boss man said he’d give me a reference (it was glowing by all accounts), I told them exactly what I thought of them. No pay out, but I saw them a month or so later and they wouldn’t look at me.

The funny thing is, it all took a downturn after I’d told them. Maybe coincidence, but I’m way too cynical to believe that. Another four have seen the light…

I don’t miss what was my life for nine years. I neglected my family to be loyal to theirs, and it meant nothing. When I was sick of being treated as a mug, they took offence to it. Some people enhance your life, others drain you. And some are just like slinkies, and should be pushed down the stairs.

Good luck to you all.

Andy

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I’m hung up on the final written warning. I can only judge by the process in the factory I used to work in, but a final warning WAS a final one, which you got only if you already had other warnings (verbal - 3 months, written - 6 months) active. Has this final written come out of the blue?

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BAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

That’s gold Jerry! Gold!

Thank you all for your comments. We do plan to get professional advice but I was keen to hear if anyone else here had had a similar problem.

jellysundae - yes it has come totally out of the blue. No verbal warning not had he been pulled on his performance (as I mentioned he’s recently been given a pay rise and a bonus for achieving his quarterly growth target)

everything ive read suggest that the disciplinary action should be ‘appropriate’. A final written warning is for very serious misconduct. Performance issues should be dealt with by performance coaching with regular reviews or in more serious cases - a verbal or first written warning. To jump to a final written warning seems excessive to me but as I am emotionally involved, I wondered if my judgement was clouded.

I’ll be Jerry, you can be Tom, and jelliesundae spike ? :smiley:

Interested in Carraboy’s post as I too resigned from a job that I loved. Sometimes the stress/lack of help and understanding is just too much to cope with. It’s not the right decision for everyone, but it certainly was for me.

Get advice, gather information and take time to consider all your options - and don’t be pushed into making a decision that isn’t right for you.

All the best,

Hazel

No !!! I always liked Spike. Took no shit and beat Tom up. Ironic that I’m a cat person.

Check yer Jerry.

i think you can be Kramer.

Hi Kib

your husband automatically can be classed as disabled and therefore the Equality Act 2010 would apply. I quote from the GOV.UK website

“However, you automatically meet the disability definition under the Equality Act 2010 from the day you’re diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.”

and from the same site

"As a disabled person, you have rights to protect you from discrimination. These rights cover most areas including:

  • employment
  • education
  • dealing with the police

The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations (UN) Convention on disability rights help to enforce, protect and promote your rights."

also it’s worth looking into

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/your-rights/employment/dealing-discrimination

Hope his helps, good luck

your husband hasn’t been very clever if he’s telling his line manager that he has problems with his memory.

In your situation I would go to a solicitor who specialises in Employment Law and who is familiar with the Disability Discrimination Act.

I would ask him/her to write a letter to your husband’s boss pointing out that someone with m.s. is covered by the DDA and all that involves - e.g. reasonable adjustments have to be made.

It would be interesting to have a solicitors opinion on how your husband has been treated to date - my guess reading your post is that as someone with m.s. he hasn’t been treated correctly.

Get legal advice immediately. Two people I worked with received final warnings for small things but then that was used against them. The smallest thing and both lost their jobs as they were on a “final warning”. Both went to an industrial tribunal and received over £40,000 for wrongful dismissal. The circumstances were similar in that both had received good reports at their last appraisals. The employer didn’t follow the correct procedure by leaping directly to a final warning. They were ripped apart by the Judge in the tribunal for that. Another colleague saw a solicitor, found another job, and sued for constructive dismissal. Another large payout. I took another route out and went for ill health retirement. I suppose I am trying to tell you to explore all the options, cover your back and don’t trust the employer.

Good luck

Gary