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ET rules that Muslim campaigner’s work-related stress and anxiety is a disability after Amnesty International reinstate Alexei Navalny as Prisoner of Conscience

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead Burton

In the case of Ms A E Jung v Amnesty International Limited Aisha Jung commenced her employment with Amnesty International in 2005. On 7 May 2021, Amnesty International took the decision to reinstate Alexei Navalny (AN) as a Prisoner of Conscience POC.

At the time this decision was taken, Ms Jung was the only Muslim working within her team. Amnesty’s decision to reinstate AN’s POC status had a profound effect upon Ms Jung who alleged that the decision was taken despite what she described as AN’s, “advocacy of racist violence towards Muslims.”

Furthermore, Ms Jung’s profound disagreement with the decision was not shared by any other member of her team who either remained silent or indicated that they supported the decision. Shortly after the decision was taken, Ms Jung felt symptoms of stress and anxiety, and accessed Amnesty’s Employee Assistance Programme and attended six counselling sessions.

Ms Jung was dismissed in May 2022 and is pursuing a claim against the human rights organisation for whistleblowing detriment and automatic unfair dismissal, religious discrimination, including harassment, direct discrimination, and victimisation, alongside disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The Tribunal heard that prior to May 2021, Ms Jung was a very confident person who was committed to her role at Amnesty. She was also a very sociable person and had a very busy and active social life.

However, Ms Jung’s husband described how her behaviour had since changed. Her sleep is often interrupted by her waking, feeling very stressed and she has to adopt meditation to reduce the feelings of panic. This leads to her feeling very tired during the day and she is often forgetful about her responsibilities, particularly with regard to her children. Ms Jung stated that, since May 2021, she has felt much greater isolation, and that she feels nervous and self-conscious professionally and socially; she has become increasingly withdrawn.

The Tribunal therefore judged that during the relevant period, Ms Jung was suffering from mental impairments, namely work-related stress and anxiety and that the impairments had an adverse impact on her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities which was both substantial and long-term. Ms Jung was therefore disabled within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 during the relevant period.

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