The Crown Prosecution Service has been ordered to pay a barrister almost £136,000 after failing to make adjustments to his working life following a heart attack.
Tarique Mohammed had worked as a senior crown prosecutor but was forced to take sick leave in 2014 after the heart attack and needed further surgery the following year after collapsing at home.
Following a 10-day liability hearing ending in July 2021, the employment tribunal threw out his claims of harassment and victimisation. But the CPS admitted failing to make reasonable adjustments and discrimination arising from disability. The case came to national attention because Mohammed had claimed that his dignity had been violated by a colleague who complained about flatulence caused by medication he was taking. The tribunal had found the colleague’s requests to be reasonable given the small size of the offices and the repetitive nature of the problem.
Following a remedy hearing in Reading earlier this year, Employment Judge Hawksworth said Mohammed’s bosses had not allowed him to work from home for two days a week and failed to reduce his workload to alleviate stress. The CPS also did not allow Mohammed to reduce his contractual working hours to enable him to finish his working day at 4pm so he could take his medication. A further adjustment should also have been made to allow Mohammed to perform some court duties.
The judge said the claimant’s anxiety and depression symptoms and his heart condition were ‘significant’ and caused his absence from work for long periods during which he lost potential earnings.
A doctor’s report stated that the claimant’s depression and anxiety would have persisted even without the discrimination he suffered, but these conditions could have been managed so they did not result in sickness absence and loss of salary.
The judge concluded: ‘We have found that the admitted discrimination made the claimant feel unsupported and vulnerable, angry and upset. We have found that he felt his disability was ignored and that he had to battle to explain it. We have also found that the failure to make reasonable adjustments and the removal of the claimant from court duties affected his self-confidence and self-belief.’
The tribunal awarded around £61,000 (including interest) for past financial losses, £10,000 for pension loss, £10,000 for psychiatric injury, £27,000 for injury to feelings and treatment costs of £1,320.
The CPS was also instructed to review its training programmes within the next six weeks.
In a statement following the remedy ruling, a CPS spokesperson said: 'We are proud to be an inclusive employer and therefore regret that, while the tribunal rejected claims of harassment and victimisation, failure to make some reasonable adjustments and take appropriate management action meant that our practice fell short.
'While we are pleased this case has now reached its conclusion, as an organisation which seeks to continuously improve, our focus is on embedding the lessons to be learnt from it.'