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Breast cancer patient wins £100,000 for unfair dismissal

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A former area manager for Clinton Cards has won more than £100,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination after the company decided to sack her shortly after she returned to work following chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

Breast cancer survivor Sally-Ann Burke, 54, of Rhuddlan, Denbighshire in North Wales, was dismissed in January 2009. Leading up to her dismissal, manager John Walker claimed she was working at "50% capacity" and "frightened" her so much during one meeting she was reduced to tears.

Ms Burke told an employment tribunal in Abergele that she was diagnosed with cancer in July 2005 and that the illness sometimes left her feeling "tired and forgetful".

Initially, she said, her employer reduced the number of card shops she was responsible for from 15 to 9, but this was later increased to 31 stores.

Tribunal Judge Wayne Beard said an employer "cannot just turn a blind eye" to an employee's disability.

He also found that despite knowing about her illness Clinton Cards failed to make "reasonable adjustments" to reallocate her workload to others. Moreover, Mr Walker's treatment of Ms Burke had been "appalling" and "beggars belief".

He added: "The reason for the dismissal was that the claimant's performance was not up to the standard Mr Walker expected. That was clearly related to her disability."

In total, Ms Burke was awarded £100,414 compensation plus interest.

After the hearing, Ms Burke's family said they were "satisfied" with the outcome.

A Clinton Cards spokesman said: "Obviously, we are disappointed with the outcome. However, we have not yet received the full, written judgement and therefore we are unable to make any further comment at this time. We will be carefully reviewing the findings."

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