A senior banker at Natwest was fired by text message just days after her cancer treatment – and is suing the bank for £4.3 million.
Adeline Willis, a NatWest employee for more than six years, partially won an unfair dismissal case in February after a judge found that it was “tainted with discrimination” to fire her from her £160,000 position in 2020, eight months after she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Under the UK Equality Act 2010, cancer is recognised as a disability that shields patients from prejudice.
At the Central London Employment Tribunal on Monday, attorneys for NatWest and the 44-year-old risk and compliance officer argued about document disclosures pertaining to her income since leaving the bank.
In reaction to NatWest’s “heavy-handed style” in its answer to the most recent proceedings, Willis has enhanced her claim, according to a document submitted to the court.
Since most workplace disputes are resolved outside of court, the case is unusual.
Willis’ attorney, Paul Gilroy, said during the two-day hearing that NatWest planned to present four witnesses to “attack” Willis’ testimony, including by contesting the significance of learning she had been fired through text message while in the hospital.
Gilroy said: “We have turned up here effectively under false pretences.
“There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of dealing with this case in two days.”
NatWest attorney Charles Crow acknowledged that the number of specialists the bank was now calling may have been communicated to Willis’s team sooner.
But he added all parties ought to have understood that issues couldn’t be resolved in a two-day hearing.
“We recognise the extremely difficult personal circumstances in this case and that there were things the bank did not get right,” a NatWest spokesperson said.
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“NatWest remains committed to building an inclusive culture and ensuring this cannot happen again.”
The case continues.