At the time Sarah Jane Hinsley resigned from West Mercia Police she was unknowingly suffering from undiagnosed depression and resigned on grounds of no longer being able to cope with the demands of the job. However, after visiting her GP and being prescribed anti-depressants, she changed her mind and asked for her job back.
An internal panel decided to refuse her request in June that year, and Hinsley’s case was taken up by the Police Federation.
Although a tribunal initially found in favour of West Mercia Police, that decision has now been reversed after the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of disability. West Mercia had failed to make a reasonable adjustment for Hinsley’s disability when she asked to be reinstated, the EAT found.
Juliette Franklin, of Russell, Jones & Walker employment lawyers, who handled Mrs Hinsley’s case, said: “This could impact on the way other employers need to think about their duty under the Disability Discrimination Act.
“The fact is that Mrs Hinsley was not in a position to make a measured and appropriate decision about her career whilst suffering from depression.”
But the case could create some confusion for employers who generally assume that once an employee has resigned they cannot retract their resignation, other experts said.
West Mercia Police said they would not comment on the case until the written judgment, which is due shortly, is published.