After excess working hours, trader is diagnosed with depression and wins tribunal claim

An employment tribunal has ruled that a trader who became ill after working an excessive number of hours had been discriminated against because of his disability, namely mental health.

 Adam Glover Bailie had worked as head of equities and fixed income with the UK trading firm Archer-Daniels Midland Company. The law firm who assisted My Bailie stated that the tribunal ruling should a seen as a warning to other financial sectors where safeguarding the mental health of employees and wellbeing was important.

Although his mental health problems began in 2016 when Mr Bailie was working long hours to cover several roles, he deteriorated severely in 2017 after he was promoted to run the department.

After the promotion Mr Bailie informed the head of HR that he was feeling stressed with all the new responsibilities placed on him. He later suffered a breakdown.

Mr Bailie was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2018. He found that he was working even longer hours than before. This was due to the wild swings in the markets. Mr Bailie was then prescribed anti-depressants.

In May 2018 Mr Bailie was given temporary medical leave for stress related to his workload. He was permanently signed off work in August 2018 and has not worked since then.

Mr Bailie told the tribunal that he believed that a senior manager Fabian Somerville-Cotton had intentionally been attempting to force him to leave the organisation.

While he was on sick leave, Somerville-Cotton had told colleagues that Mr Bailie would only continue in a senior leadership role, while another employee would assume the role of co-head. The other employee would also have overall responsibility of the team and their performance.

Mr Bailie was not told of the changes by the company. Rather, he heard them from a colleague. The changes were the opposite to the assurances Mr Bailie had been given by the HR department.

When, in May 2018, he was diagnosed as unfit for work, Mr Bailie claimed that the HR department had been hostile towards him. They had also been unsupportive about his condition.

The employment tribunal ruled that because of his mental health disability, Mr Bailie had been discriminated against. He was treated unfairly and unfavourably because of his absence from work.

The tribunal dismissed further claims of indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment as well as failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Irwin Mitchell lawyer Mr Shazia Khan, who represented Mr Bailie stated that his client was very happy that his case had been successful, not only for himself but for other workers who were the victims of stressful and unsupportive work environments.

 Mr Khan went on to say that senior managers should start to take these matters seriously in order to avoid further claims from being made against them.

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) states in a recently published discussion about the culture in financial services that the introduction of the SM&CR (Senior Managers & Certification Regime) has outlined a set of minimum standards regarding the behaviour of financial services staff.

These minimum standards are in place to provide and promote a culture where people in the senior manager positions take responsibility for identifying areas where harm may occur and then take any necessary action to prevent it.

The FCA new regulation states that there is now a recognised link between how an individual behaves and the conduct of the company. This new set of standards will be a forerunner for similar claims in the future.

In January there will be a two-day hearing to discuss whether Mr Bailie is entitled to compensation, and if so, the amount it will be.


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