Preston mail worker wins dismissal claim

The Royal Mail has been criticised by a judge for sacking a Preston postal worker after wrongly believing he was travelling abroad while given special leave to look after his injured wife and children.

Aboobaker Vorajee, a part time employee with 16 years service, was dismissed for alleged misconduct from the Royal Mail’s centre in Preston. He made legal claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against the Royal Mail Group Ltd at Manchester Employment Tribunal during hearings in May and June.

Tribunal judge Elayne Hill decided to make a decision at a later date.

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A few days ago she announced that Mr Vorajee had been unfairly dismissed but that his claim for disability discrimination had failed.

The tribunal was told Mr Vorajee, who suffered from depression, booked a flight to Mumbai on March 7 2016 but cancelled it when his wife injured her back in a stepladder fall.

He was then given special leave from March 10 to March 24 to look after her and their children.

Miss Hill’s report said that the respondents evidence indicated that Mr Vorajee may have travelled abroad during the period he was looking after his family but the matter was not dealt with until later that summer. This was because Mr Vorajee had been due to start his normal holiday from March 25 – the day after his special leave ended - until April 3 and on March 29 he flew to Abu Dhabi.

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But he was about to board the plane to return home on April 1 when he discovered the UAE Government had placed a travel ban on him over a property dispute. Mr Vorajee was banned from returning home until the matter had been resolved and the ban was not lifted until July 24 last year.

On Mr Vorajee’s return in July the Royal Mail carried out an investigation into alleged travel during the “family leave” and following checks on alleged flight bookings Mr Vorajee was dismissed for alleged misconduct in September last year.

Mr Vorajee denied he had done anything wrong, however, and complained there had been checking errors

He said he had kept the respondents informed about his travel ban. He accused his former employers of failing to make adjustments to help him cope with his depression and alleged he had been harassed.

The respondents denied the allegations.

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Miss Hill said:”The respondents should have ensured that they had good reliable evidence and not rely on supposition. The decision to dismiss was not made on reasonable grounds.”

She said she would make a decision about remedy at a later date.