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Former BPP employment law lecturer successfully sues for unfair dismissal

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Elizabeth Aylott wins on two counts; BPP launches appeal

A former BPP employment law lecturer has won an employment tribunal claim against the university.

Elizabeth Aylott successfully argued for constructive unfair dismissal at the Central London Employment Tribunal, which found that bosses had failed to reduce her workload despite her mental health struggles.

The judgment also criticised BPP bosses for “crass and insensitive” comments, including a remark that Aylott was “mad as a box of frogs”.

BPP successfully defended other aspects of the case. The university has acknowledged the tribunal’s findings but is appealing the decision.

Aylott, who joined BPP in 2009, was “highly regarded by her colleagues” and promoted to Student Learning Manager in 2015.

The tribunal found that “there was a ‘long hours’ culture amongst the management team” with work emails flying around at weekends and bank holidays. In the summer of 2018, Aylott was apparently working 55-60 hour weeks and cancelled her August holiday.

On top of the workload, Aylott had to cope with autistic spectrum order, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and depression, as well as a deceased husband, sick dad and a son diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Things eventually got too much and by the autumn of 2018 Aylott was “not coping”.

After lengthy periods on sick leave, she left in April 2019 and sued BPP for constructive unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

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Her case for discrimination stated that she wasn’t offered more than the standard 15 days of sick pay or a phased return to work after being off sick. Colleagues had also referred to her as “mad as a box of frogs, but a good worker” and told her that someone of her age and experience should be able to manage their workload.

The tribunal found that there was no disability discrimination under some aspects of the claim, despite the “crass and insensitive” comments, but upheld another branch of the claim relating to disability.

And it upheld her claim for constructive unfair dismissal, finding that a series of incidents added up to a “fundamental breach of trust and confidence”. These included the “box of frogs” comment, the sick pay issue and a “failure to reduce workload” to the point where Aylott felt obliged to cancel a week’s holiday.

The detailed judgment also criticised BPP’s “superficial” grievance process and its attempt to “steer the Claimant toward termination of her employment under a Settlement Agreement rather than make the Occupational Health advice referral that the Claimant had expressly requested”.

The delay in referring Aylott to occupational health led to a finding of discrimination arising from disability, under section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.

A remedy hearing is due to take place next month to work out what compensation Aylott is entitled to.

A spokesperson for BPP told Legal Cheek:

“We are aware that several news outlets have published a story relating to a legal case between Elizabeth Aylott and BPP. Several of these articles contained inaccuracies and, contrary to what was reported, the tribunal found that no direct or indirect disability discrimination was committed by BPP. Whilst we respectfully acknowledge the findings of the tribunal, we have submitted an appeal, so cannot comment further on the case at this time.”

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20 Comments

Good Game

Has anyone else seen the CMS Choir song going round on WhatsApp today? Could be the ‘best’ one yet.

(1)(6)

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

Be glorious, our firm,
A reliable stronghold of the peoples’ friendship!
Banner of the firm, banner of the people,
May it lead us from victory to victory!

Through tempests the sun of freedom shone to us,
And the great CMS illuminated our path,
We were raised by CMS to be true to the people,
To labour and heroic deeds it inspired us!

(8)(6)

Anonymous

I pity the world when this gives rise to liability.

(10)(14)

CMS NQ

Is that you Peregrine?

(0)(0)

Disgruntled

55-60 hours is long? That’s a soft kiss good night compared to the horrors I have seen.

(3)(7)

Anonymous

Yes, its long.

(11)(1)

BerkeleyYo

Well, I mean – you’d hope he would have been successful wouldn’t you… a testament to BPP excellent staff and awful administration.

(9)(1)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“He”? Who is this “he” you speak of?

(8)(0)

Anonymous

The mental health charities need to be speaking up a lot more when these cases come up instead of pandering to HR departments. Mind, let’s be hearing you please.

(11)(3)

Spam Hamwich

You would have though BPP would have been more careful when letting go a lecturer in employment.

(15)(0)

Property barrister

I think the article needs some clarification – there are a couple of occasions where its stated that the claimant’s disability discrimination claim was dismissed.
This isn’t right. The s13 direct discrimination claim and s19 indirect discrimination claim were dismissed, but the more central s15 disability discrimination claim was upheld.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

A sentence which shows the tragic world of compensation culture and victim culture that is modern England.

(8)(8)

Heather Platt

The Claimant actually won her disability discrimination claim (under section 15 Equality Act 2010, which is discrimination arising from disabiltiy). Please see paragraphs 1, 273 – 274, 280 of the Tribunal’s Judgment.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

What utter nonsense. Seems like this is a shameful abuse of power by somebody who clearly knows their way around employment law and HR practices.

(9)(11)

Anonymous

“A shameful abuse of power” by someone whose claim was upheld, and who was both disabled and experiencing difficult personal circumstances (which the Tribunal found BPP was on notice of)?

Have you read the judgment?

(11)(6)

Anonymous 10

This “boss” saved my life. I’m an autistic student, she talked me down from a window ledge, Told me her son is autistic and it’s all going to be ok, would be dead if it weren’t for her. Don’t believe the hype.

(14)(4)

Ex BPP

Good for her.

No excuses. BPP – Be the time model you want your children to be.

Having studied at BPP, I’ve never known a worse set up.

(5)(5)

Rianna Moth

This article contains some inaccuracies and fabrications, as does the claim. The “boss“ that has been painted as a villain in this situation is one of the most caring people I have ever met, and has taken the time to mentor me as an undergraduate student with a mother who suffers from mental illness, aswell as dealing with my own anxiety. To cast the institution off as a place run by people with little regard for mental health simply isn’t true.

Please do not believe everything you read.

(8)(7)

Anonymous

“This article contains some inaccuracies and fabrications, as does the claim.”

How could you possibly know that, unless you were privy to confidential information from within the business?

Please do not believe everything you’re told.

(2)(2)

Raj Lennie

This article very closely follows the theme of the claim brought before the tribunal; to cast a particularly negative light on a spotless “BPP boss” with an amazing heart and unquestionable track record.
Speaking from my own experience and that of countless others like myself from BAME and other marginalised
backgrounds, who have been mentored and given a fighting chance at higher education by this person, it is truly unimaginable to paint such a champion of equal opportunity in this way.
Readers, I encourage you to unearth the facts and develop a keen scent for the truth.

(3)(6)

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