£1m compensation claim against firm, Sutton Guardian, 18 February 2012

From the Sutton Guardian, 18 February 2012 (Story by James Pepper)

A widow is waiting to hear whether her ex-employer will be ordered to pay her £1m in damages after she became ill and lost her job.

Joanna Maclennan, 36, from Carshalton, is claiming £1m from Hartford Europe LTD as she has not been able to work since 2006.

Mrs Maclennan, who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and uses two walking sticks, told the hearing at The High Court how she was ill due to working 12 hour days.

In 2006 the company decided Mrs MacLennan “had to be replaced because she could no longer do the job.”

Mr Justice Hickinbottom, has reserved judgement following the conclusion of the trial on Friday (February 10) and is expected to make a ruling later this week.

Mrs MacLennan, told the court how she had “been through a difficult time” with the sales team at the company and felt like she was being “gossiped about”.

She told Mr Justice Hickinbottom, people were “funny” with her after she was diagnosed with CFS in 2006.

After being signed off work sick, Mrs MacLennan claims she “couldn’t take it” when she received getting calls at home from people at the company to talk about work matters, when a doctor had told her not to have contact with work.

She said: “Nobody was listening to me. I was just trying to do what the doctor said.”

The phone calls prompted Mrs MacLennan’s mum to tell her colleagues to “back off” as her daughter could “barely” walk or talk at the time, the court was told.

The court heard one doctor suggested she “get a new job”.

Barrister for Hartford Europe David Platt QC said Mrs MacLennan tried to blame work for her illness after she had been overlooked for a £85,000 a year job at the firm.

He claimed medical evidence suggested it was a recent bout of chicken pox which was in fact to blame.

He tried to discredit the medical evidence the claimant presented by saying it was from a doctor who used “mushrooms” as a treatment method.

Mr Platt said “Jo’s prognosis was so poor” the company could not help her, and indeed did not know Mrs MacLennan had issues with her workload.

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