The case of Hutchison v Asda is a salutary reminder to employers to use their proper policies to deal with situations of ill health regardless of the good intention behind suggesting any different approach.
Joan Hutchison, 75, resigned in September 2020 after 20 years at the supermarket saying her manager made her feel she was being “pushed out of the business” and “too old to be there”. Hutchison had been displaying symptoms of dementia (although they were undiagnosed at the time), in response to which her manager had asked her repeatedly if she wanted to retire and, in when she appeared jittery, had asked if she would speak to Occupational Health.
The Employment Tribunal (ET) upheld claims of constructive unfair dismissal, age and disability discrimination against Asda following the resignation of the Claimant. In their findings the ET set out that Asda had failed to properly manage the situation on a number of counts, including not undertaking a proper risk assessment informed by Occupational Health when it was clear to them that the Claimant’s health was having an impact on her work. The Claimant’s compensation will be significantly reduced by the ET’s finding that she would likely have been fairly dismissed on ill health grounds before the end of 2020 anyway.