A dedicated Jaguar Land Rover worker described how he had to call in ‘bailiffs’ to force the company to pay the £250,000 given in compensation for unfair dismissal.
Long-serving Brian Fox worked for a carmaker at the Load Lane factory in Solihull since the age of 16.
But he says he was sacked twice in March 2019 at the age of 59 after undergoing heart surgery and turned down a request to no longer work the night shift on medical grounds.
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He took JLR to an employment tribunal and eventually won a sizable pay-out of £250,000 in March, based primarily on loss of future earnings and pension contributions.
Yet JLR failed to pay the money immediately as the company was appealing for the level of the award. Bryan took enforcement action through his attorney, a recovery company that visited JLR’s Coventry site.
Brian, now 62, said: “I loved JLR and felt it was like my second family, but I was fired for no reason.
“I had a doctor’s letter saying I was fit for work without any restrictions.
“But I was told to go off the site soon after the dismissal and made me feel like I didn’t want any more.”
A JLR spokesperson said: “Given that the matter is currently under appeal to the Employment Appellate Tribunal (EAT), it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”
Brian began working on specialty vehicles at the age of 16 at the paint shop at JLR at age 16 – including mixing paint for the Queen’s Land Rover as well as British Army vehicles.
He also worked in other departments at the factory but then in 2012 and 2014 required life-saving cardiac operations.
After two heart surgeries, he was away from work for about 16 months and then requested to work days instead of nights when he returned, but says no suitable role was offered.
He was also out of work with stress and says that he also agreed to convert the sections to working days.
The tribunal was told that he was offered early retirement on medical grounds by the JLR, but it turned down the offer.
Brian said: “I had a heart valve operation in December 2012. Then I needed another operation on the other valve which I did in December 2014.
“I was told that if both operations went well, which they did, I should be fine, but I would need medication for the rest of my life.
“After surgery I was very bad for weeks. It takes a long time to get back to my old form physically and mentally.
“But I just wanted to go back to work and I worked hard at the gym and went swimming.
“I just wanted to feel normal again. Eventually, I had a doctor’s letter saying I was completely fit with no restrictions.”
But Bryan says he felt like he was treated differently when he returned.
“It bothered me, made me feel like I was reducing JLR which I didn’t want to do. It was just like when I had my second operation,” he recalled.
“I never had time for work unless it was a very serious matter. I have always loved working in JLR. 14 members of my family used to work there. My dad worked there for more than 20 years. Did.
“It was hard and dirty work over the years but I took pride in working there but felt I was being treated differently because I had a heart condition. I was put on antidepressants by my doctor.
“Then there was an incident when someone shouted at me and called me just because two vehicles had gone. I was actually yelled at for several minutes. I complained but nothing was done.
“Occupational health was good for me, but HR wanted me to act according to a doctor’s note that pertained to right after my surgery, and not according to a new note from my doctor that said I I am fit enough to work.
“I also complained to HR when I learned that some internal jobs were not being advertised on the internal portal, which meant I had no chance to see those jobs when they were available.
“For the past 15 years I have worked on supply parts quality where I was happily there but the company could not accommodate me to be on the day shift.
“Finally I was working in the metrology – measurement – department. I asked for work days because I thought it would be better for my health but the company wanted me to retire on grounds of ill health.
“I didn’t want that and was later fired and told to leave the site immediately. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my work friends, people I’d worked with for years.”
The devastated Brian took the company to an employment tribunal in June 2019 and was represented by Slater and Gordon. He eventually won his case in September of the following year for unfair dismissal as well as discrimination arising out of disability and indirect discrimination.
It was also found that the JLR had not made a ‘reasonable adjustment’, but the claim of aggrieved as a claim of direct disability discrimination was rejected.
The tribunal said: “We hold that the claimant, who had worked for the respondent from the age of 16 years, would have continued to work for the respondent till his retirement at the age of 65 years. There is no evidence to support this view. There is no evidence that there was any possibility. The claimant was dismissed before reaching the age of retirement.”
At the hearing that resumed in March this year, Bryan was awarded £252,336, including £70,000 for loss of income and £69,000 for loss of future pension. The tribunal also awarded him a £11,500 reward for ‘hurting feelings’.
Yet even after the award was finalized, Jaguar Land Rover reportedly failed to pay.
As a result, Brian was forced to appoint a bailiff who visited the firm’s Coventry headquarters to demand payment.
He said: “Even though I won in court, it didn’t give me satisfaction. If the company had listened to me, I would still be doing some work there.
“I still have a lot of love for JLR and I believe there were people out there who were nice to me. In the end there were people who treated me badly.
“But I will always have the company and the love of my life there.”
Slater and Gordon’s senior colleague Rubel Bashir said: “Mr. Fox was an extremely hard-working employee and worked for JLR throughout his adult life.
“He takes incredible pride in his work and considers JLR an integral part of his life. He was deeply hurt and devastated by the manner of his dismissal and we are delighted to have received a substantial amount of compensation for him.
“JLR has appealed for the extent of compensation given but this has been rejected by the court and we are confident that they will not succeed.
“This decision reflects the importance of employers making appropriate adjustments to employees with disabilities and exploring all options prior to dismissal.”