LONDON (Reuters) – NatWest Group is facing a 2 million pound-plus ($2.7 million) compensation claim after a London tribunal ruled it had discriminated against an employee and unfairly dismissed her two days after cancer surgery, her lawyer said on Thursday.
Adeline Willis, a 44-year-old risk and compliance officer who had worked at the bank for more than six years, said she was physically and emotionally in turmoil after being made redundant in 2020, eight months after a bowel cancer diagnosis.
But the tribunal ruled a recorded telephone call a few weeks after her diagnosis, in which Willis’s managers sought advice from the human resources department about terminating a secondment early because she was due to take time off for cancer treatment, was clear evidence of discriminatory intent.
“This has been a harrowing experience for my client who did not deserve the appalling treatment that she endured at the hands of one of this country’s largest and best resourced employers,” said Will Clayton, a lawyer at Constantine Law, who represents Willis.
“The next step is to ensure that Ms Willis is fully compensated for her losses and the discrimination that she has suffered,” Clayton said, adding the case had a potential value in excess of 2 million pounds.
Natwest said it recognised the “extremely difficult personal circumstances in this case,” adding it was reviewing the judgment and considering its position.
The London Central Employment Tribunal rejected the bank’s allegations that Willis’s 160,000 pound-per-year job was redundant, ruling that Willis’s dismissal had been “tainted with discrimination.”
Cancer is listed as a disability under the UK Equality Act 2010, protecting sufferers from discrimination.
If the two sides cannot agree on the level of damages, the court has pencilled in a further hearing for April 25 and 26.
($1 = 0.7346 pounds)
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Mark Potter)