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Analyst wins disability discrimination claim after being dismissed for taking time off to recover from near fatal allergic reaction

In Mr O Ajanaku v Monsas Ltd the respondent (Monsas) is a financial services company which provides a secure international payment services for business clients. The claimant (Mr Ajanaku) worked for the respondent as a Compliance and Onboarding Analyst.

In Mr O Ajanaku v Monsas Ltd the respondent (Monsas) is a financial services company which provides a secure international payment services for business clients. The claimant (Mr Ajanaku) worked for the respondent as a Compliance and Onboarding Analyst.

On April 23, 2022, he nearly died after going into anaphylactic shock at his older brother’s wedding in London, where he was best man. A Nigerian food seasoned with peanut spice was served at the festivities.

He became ‘completely immobile’ and when the ambulance arrived 20 minutes later, they gave him oxygen and epinephrine (adrenaline).

He was discharged the next day with orders to rest and a five-day treatment course of chlorphenamine, nizatidine, and prednisolone, and two weeks of paracetamol.

The day after he was discharged, Mr Ajanaku followed his company’s absence protocol and told his boss about what happened, and he would need the week off to recover from the ordeal.

But when he returned to work, chief compliance officer Sally Rigg emailed Mr Ajanaku asking for a medical certificate because he was ‘off work for more than three days’.

In a 10.57pm email, she told Mr Ajanaku: ‘You are now on notice, we are taking disciplinary action if you cannot produce the evidence requested by 12pm tomorrow’.

Unaccompanied Mr Ajanaku then had to attend a disciplinary hearing at short notice with senior executives at the company, in breach of the company’s own rules.

His previous behaviour and performance were called into question at the meeting, and he was sacked.

The London Central tribunal ruled that ‘Mr Ajanaku’s absence which arose from his disability of anaphylaxis was a significant part of the reason for his dismissal’.

Employment Judge Tina Elliott said that while it wasn’t unreasonable for Monsas to ask for a medical certificate, Mr Ajanaku suffered ‘unfavourable treatment’ because he wasn’t told the company had a right to ask for it and because he was called to the meeting at short notice.

She said: ‘Monsas had some doubts about the genuineness of Mr Ajanaku’s sickness absence and they wished to investigate this, they wished to maintain a satisfactory level of attendance on his part.

‘We find [that] to be a legitimate aim and they needed medical information in order to manage the situation appropriately. It was not disproportionate to seek a medical certificate for this purpose.

‘There was no letter setting out the allegations he faced or the possible consequences of the meeting, he was not given time to prepare for the meeting and he was not afforded his right to be accompanied.

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