Marketing manager wins £30,000 payout after bosses sacked her
Marketing manager, 50, wins £30,000 payout after bosses didn’t want to criticise her ‘poor performance’ while she had breast cancer – then sacked her when she returned to work
- Lucy Lyddall sued The Wooldridge Partnership Ltd for disability discrimination
- She won compensation of £32,351 and treated herself to a Porsche Cayman S
A marketing manager whose bosses did not want to criticise her work because she had breast cancer and then sacked her has won more than £30,000 in a discrimination claim.
Lucy Lyddall, 50, was underperforming in her job while battling the disease but was never told her managers were unhappy, an employment tribunal heard.
The unsuspecting executive was instead given ‘positive reinforcement’ by bosses who did not want to add to her stress.
When she returned from time off to recover from breast cancer treatment, Ms Lyddall was ‘completely shocked’ that her manager sacked her, saying ‘your vision is not their vision’.
Company director Charlie Wooldridge later admitted they did not want to ‘send her negative feedback’ to prevent her being more stressed.
Lucy Lyddall, 50, pictured with her husband Chris, 37, has won more than £30,000 in a discrimination claim after bosses fired her having not criticised her work because she had breast cancer
Ms Lyddall was under-performing in her job while battling the disease but was never told her managers were unhappy, an employment tribunal heard
Defending herself without a lawyer, Mrs Lyddall has successfully sued The Wooldridge Partnership Ltd, a multi-million pound construction business in Surrey, for disability discrimination.
She won compensation of £32,351, with a judge at Reading Employment Tribunal, Berks, slamming the business for firing her ‘at a point of exceptional vulnerability’.
Mrs Lyddall – who bought herself a Porsche to celebrate – has spoken out about her ‘daunting’ decision to fight the company – which boasts of having a £45 million turnover – at the tribunal and criticised it for its treatment of her.
She said she had been in marketing for 30 years but has vowed to never return to the career.
Mrs Lyddall – who came up with marketing strategies for some of Wooldridge’s businesses in its retail, hospitality and leisure portfolio – began working for the company in March 2021.
Just two months later she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer and had to take time off for hospital treatment, then more time off in July for further treatment and her wedding to plumber husband Chris, 37.
However, when she returned to work in August 2021 – the day after her short honeymoon – Costas Constantinou, a consultant to Wooldridge, told her she was being ‘let go’ and that ‘your vision is not their vision’.
Mrs Lyddall said it was ‘completely unexpected and it shocked me’. ‘At no time did anyone talk to me about my performance. In fact all I received was positive reinforcement,’ she added.
Mr Constantinou, who had a ‘good relationship’ with Mrs Lyddall, said there was a ‘number of examples’ related to ‘poor performance’, including poor social media posts and work on websites.
She won compensation of £32,351, with a judge at Reading Employment Tribunal, Berks, slamming the business for firing her ‘at a point of exceptional vulnerability’
He said she ‘failed to engage with the directors and stake holders and failed to deliver and did not develop a brand identity’.
Mrs Lyddall disputes allegations that her work was unsatisfactory, but admitted a number of ‘serious errors or faults’ which she says were not serious enough to justify dismissal.
When Mr Constantinou was asked why he did not speak to her about improving her work, he said: ‘I do not think that is the right approach.’
Mr Wooldridge, who reportedly abandoned a professional polo career to take over the family business, said he didn’t think it was ‘fair’ to email her negative feedback as she had only been with the company for a few weeks.
Mr Wooldridge also told her: ‘Around the time that this was being considered is about the time you told us the news and that you were going off and so obviously that is not really the time to be sending you emails of negative feedback from within the team.
‘Obviously it was the decision made that we should not put you on any more stress with the feedback.’
Employment Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto ruled Mrs Lyddall had been the victim of disability discrimination.
The judge said: ‘Mr Wooldridge… had her disability in mind when he stated that one reason for not referring her to negative feedback was her disability and the medical treatment, she was either about to undergo or had undergone.
‘There was no signposting that this was in the offing for her, nothing to warn her that her dismissal might be imminent or was likely if her performance did not improve.
‘This is a case which has had a serious and significant impact on Mrs Lyddall.
‘She had been dismissed by the company at a point of exceptional vulnerability.
‘Whilst this was a one-off act of discrimination by dismissal, it has involved the loss of her job and in her circumstances, where she was receiving treatment for cancer, has meant that she has had to abandon – for the time being at least – a career in marketing.’
The judge said Mrs Lyddall could not have known she was failing and that’ concerns about her performance were not so serious as to justify termination of employment’.
Today, mother of one and step-mother of two Mrs Lyddall said: ‘It was so difficult, I was still going through treatment at the time.
‘I cried when they told me, I loved my job and thought I was doing brilliantly. I didn’t accept the reason… I was in shock that it had happened.
‘It was the worst time of my life – it was a devastating diagnosis as it affects everything in my life.
‘I thought Costas and I were great friends and I respected him. You can give your faith to those people and it means nothing.’
Mrs Lyddall added that she made the ‘daunting’ decision to fight the multi-million pound company in court despite not having a lawyer and said they ‘tried to shred my character and professional reputation’.
‘I couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer so I did the best I could. The things they were saying about me was so unjust,’ she said.
Following her win, she has bought herself her dream car – a Porsche Cayman S – after her husband told her ‘just get it, life is short’.
Mrs Lyddall had 10 days of intensive radiotherapy to treat her cancer and for the last two years has been taking drugs every day to treat it, describing herself as ‘fighting fit’.
Mrs Lyddall has now taken up a part-time job as an assistant merchandiser and says she will never return to marketing as she has ‘lost her confidence’.
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