07/10/2021

Woman With Cancer Settles Discrimination Case For £40,000

A woman with cancer has settled a discrimination case against her former employer for £40,000.

Siobhan Jacobs, an employee with over sixteen years' service, has settled a discrimination case against Yellow Door (Portadown) Ltd. The case was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and was part heard in Tribunal in August 2021 before being settled.

She said: "After four stressful days in Tribunal, I'm pleased my case has been settled. I have two young children to support and all I ever wanted was to get back to a job I had been in for such a long time, I had really enjoyed my job.

"I was a dedicated and hardworking employee throughout my time with Yellow Door and I thought they would fully support me to get back to work after my treatment for cancer. I still find it hard to believe that after 16 years loyal service, it ended like this."

Siobhan joined Yellow Door in 2003 and was promoted to Head of Events in 2014. In February 2016, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and, after treatment, returned to work in September 2016. However, in September 2017, Siobhan faced another devastating blow when she was diagnosed with metastic lung cancer.

Following treatment, Siobhan returned to work on a phased part-time basis in February 2019. No return to work meeting or welfare meeting took place. Siobhan found herself without access to basic equipment including a mobile phone, and her desk and computer had been reallocated. She had to 'hot desk', which was only possible when colleagues were away from their desks. This made it difficult for her to do her job properly.
News Image
Siobhan found that she could no longer manage long 10-12 hour shifts, as they caused her pain and fatigue. She raised this with her employer and gave them a letter from her consultant who advised that she should not work shifts longer than 6 hours and needed to do light duties where possible. Despite assurances, her employer did not meet with her to talk about her difficulties or her consultant’s advice. She was advised by her employer that long shifts were in her contract and she had to fulfil them.

After refusing to work one such long shift at an event, Siobhan was asked to attend an investigatory meeting under the disciplinary policy. With the help of Macmillan Cancer Support, she wrote to her employer seeking reasonable adjustments to help her do her job. However, the day after receiving this letter her employer sent Siobhan a letter inviting her to a Disciplinary hearing for major misconduct.

Siobhan then raised a grievance with her employer and her solicitor also wrote to her employer raising concerns about her treatment. After the grievance procedure concluded, with only some of her grievances being partially upheld, Siobhan felt she had no choice but to resign. She then contacted the Equality Commission.

Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said: "Siobhan had faced a life changing illness and despite the challenges, she wanted to work and make a positive contribution to her workplace. Many people like Siobhan face ill health and acquire a disability over the course of their working lives and the disability discrimination law protects them.

"Employers should have relevant policies and procedures in place to allow them to deal with employees requests for reasonable adjustments appropriately. Importantly they must ensure these policies are used when they are needed. Employers should also ensure that all staff and managers understand their rights and responsibilities.

"By supporting employees like Siobhan, employers can give people the opportunity to continue to work and live a full life whilst living with a disability."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

09 January 2020
Latest Cancer Waiting Times Spark Calls For Action
An Ulster Unionist MLA has reiterated calls for the UK Government to step in and take action on health matters following publication of the latest cancer waiting times. Official figures released by the Department of Health reveal that in September 2019, 48.
21 June 2012
Community Gardens 'Grow Community'
A Northern Ireland community garden project to improve the lives of isolated and vulnerable older people has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund. North Belfast's GROW project will develop three community gardens at sites in Camberwell Terrace Fold, Newington Day Centre and the Waterworks.
05 November 2020
NI Executive Commits To Work With Civic And Business Leaders
The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to work with civic and business leaders to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic, Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons have said. The Ministers saw the efforts being made by the retail sector to keep their staff and customers safe when they visited a Lidl store in the Greater Belfast area.
03 February 2012
Ministers Welcome Work At South Belfast Youth Centre
Education Minister, John O’Dowd and Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, have welcomed the beginning of construction work at St Malachy’s Youth Centre in the Market area of Belfast. The £1.
04 February 2020
Symptom Awareness This World Cancer Day
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting the general signs and symptoms of cancer in a bid to raise awareness and boost outcome rates this World Cancer Day.