NatWest Group is facing a £2m-plus compensation claim after a London tribunal ruled it had discriminated against an employee and unfairly dismissed her two days after cancer surgery, her lawyer have said.
Adeline Willis, a 44-year-old risk and compliance officer who had worked at the bank for more than six years, said she was physically and emotionally in turmoil after being made redundant in 2020, eight months after a bowel cancer diagnosis.
The tribunal ruled that a recorded telephone call a few weeks after her diagnosis, in which Willis’s managers sought advice from the human resources department about terminating a secondment early because she was due to take time off for cancer treatment, was clear evidence of discriminatory intent.
“This has been a harrowing experience for my client, who did not deserve the appalling treatment that she endured at the hands of one of this country’s largest and best-resourced employers,” said Will Clayton, a lawyer at Constantine Law, who represents Willis.
“The next step is to ensure that Ms Willis is fully compensated for her losses and the discrimination that she has suffered,” Clayton said, adding that the case had a potential value in excess of £2m.
NatWest said it recognised the “extremely difficult personal circumstances in this case”, adding that it was reviewing the judgment and considering its position.
The central London employment tribunal rejected the bank’s allegations that Willis’s £160,000-a-year job was redundant, ruling that her dismissal had been “tainted with discrimination”.
Cancer is listed as a disability under the UK Equality Act 2010, protecting sufferers from discrimination.
If the two sides cannot agree on the level of damages, the court has pencilled in a further hearing for 25-26 April.