Ali Sadeghi had worked for TK Maxx for 13 years and had worked his way up to a general manager in 2016 at their High Street Kensington store.
It was alleged that Sadeghi behaved inappropriately towards some colleagues. When he was asked about this, he informed his regional HR manager and district manager that he was suffering from anxiety and depression. This had led to him having suicidal thoughts which affected his sleep and mood. Sadeghi also told them he was receiving therapy and taking medication for his condition however, TJX UK (who owns the TK Maxx brand) claimed they had never been made aware that this was an ongoing illness however, in this case, it was very unlikely.
In August 2016, Sadeghi claimed a customer had sworn at him loudly after he couldn’t refund a pair of trainers as they had already been worn outside, which goes against the organisations returns policy. At the tribunal, it was heard that the customer had then pulled out his phone to record the incident.
Previously, Sadeghi and other staff had been informed by the company to prevent such recordings from being made in the future, as they had been linked to a TV programme which included covert recordings made in their stores. This led to Ali Sadeghi pulling the phone away from the customer over the shop counter however, the customer refused. A contractor cleaner then tapped him on the shoulder so he could snatch his mobile phone and then threw it to Sadeghi. After this, the police were called and the customer was escorted off the premises.
Subsequently, the customer complained to TK Maxx, claiming Sadeghi tried to rob his phone off him, the cleaner tried to punch him and then a security guard and Sadeghi had joined in. The CCTV footage of the incident was then reviewed after the complaint was made and Sadeghi was called to a disciplinary hearing where he was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.
After hearing Sadeghi’s claims, which included disability discrimination and unfair dismissal, the tribunal came to the decision that TK Maxx should have obtained a proper medical opinion to confirm whether Sadeghi’s mental health had been an ongoing concern before going ahead with the disciplinary procedure.
This case shows the importance of employers being made aware of their employees have mental health issues. Before making a decision to discipline or dismiss a disabled employee, employer’s need to ensure they know the impact of their disabled employees condition and any medication that they may need to take for the condition. The employer may need to get several medical opinions before making any of these decisions.
Click here to read our article “Why don’t employees feel comfortable to talk about their mental health?”
If you need advice on dealing with employees suffering from mental health issues, please contact a member of the HPC team…
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