13 May 2008
Council manager sues for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination
A former council manager who was sacked when he was in hospital with bipolar disorder is suing for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, it has been revealed.
According to reports in the Evening Gazette, Russell Aylott was sent a letter terminating his employment on the grounds of "capability of health" by his department head Sue Daniels.
She told an employment tribunal that the decision to sack Mr Aylott was "collective" and that senior council officials did not feel his condition would stabilise sufficiently for him to return to work.
Ms Daniels also denied a claim made by Mr Aylott that his sacking had been an "incredibly humiliating way of getting rid of somebody from employment".
He had been on sick leave for over four months when he was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing in September 2006.
The hearing continues.
Previously referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a condition that affects sufferers' moods and leads to periods of depression and mania.
Kiran Daurka, Solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker, commented: "There remains widespread stigma within the workplace as to the capability of employees with mental health conditions.
"As a consequence, people with mental health conditions are the most socially excluded group of people within our society, with up to 80 per cent in unemployment.
"The only way that we can begin to tackle this exclusion and discrimination is by educating employers about mental health conditions and looking at ways to assist people with mental health conditions to remain at work. The latest research is clear that employment is key to rehabilitation and wellness.
"There are many misconceptions surrounding mental health and it takes these types of cases to confront and tackle them."