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Law firms warns employers after controversial compensation claim

09-12-2011 09:28 AM CET | Politics, Law & Society

Press release from: Winston Solicitors LLP

Office worker won £21,000 in compensation

Office worker won £21,000 in compensation

A Leeds law firm has said that a recent case, where an office worker won £21,000 in compensation, is evidence that employers have to take workers concerns seriously.

Winston Solicitors LLP made the comments following the controversial case of Genevieve Bove, who was awarded £21,177 after winning her claim for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination against her former employers, the Association of Voluntary Organisations.

Ms Bove, who worked as an office worker for the association, claimed that she suffered from migraines as a result of the overhead fluorescent lighting and that despite requesting that the lights be changed, her pleas were ignored. She claimed that the severe headaches became so bad that she was forced to give up her job.

An employment tribunal heard claims that her boss, John Gallanders, not only ignored her requests to change the lighting but also organised a meeting with her in one of the rooms with the lighting, despite already knowing that she was suffering from migraines. He also asked for an enhanced criminals records bureau check to be performed on her. A letter, sent by him, was read out in court. It said: “There may be something that shows up in this which may indicate she is unsuitable for the job”.

She said after the hearing that in her last three places of work adjustments had been made to the lighting for only a few pounds but that the Association of Voluntary Organisations had refused to make changes despite her pleas. The tribunal, in awarding her the damages, said that the trustees of the charity had failed in their duty to monitor the conduct of their paid officials.

The Health and Safety Executive says that exposure to fluorescent lighting is commonly associated with headaches, eye strain, eye irritation and increased stress and accidents. It recommends that employers carry out a visual inspection of their site to try and spot any particular problems with lighting and says that they should ask for feedback from staff on any problems they may encounter.

Winston Solicitors echoes the HSE advice. Partner Martin Nolan said: “Whilst an unusual case in many ways, the outcome here does underpin the need for employers to take reasonable steps to safeguard their employees. You would not in this example need to change the whole lighting system but low cost practical adaptions were possible but obviously not considered. This led to the problems escalating.”

For more information about claims involving health and safety in the workplace as well as the services on offer at Winston Solicitors LLP visit our website, or, please contact Martin Nolan on 0113 320 5000.

Accident Claim Solicitors is a compensation legal service and is managed by Winston Solicitors LLP. Winston Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Winston Solicitors LLP
112 street lane
Presscontact: Martin Nolan

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