Council Officer Successfully Sues for Wrongful Dismissal

'Significant sum' likely to be paid to Rachel Wright-Turner

Rachel Wright-Turner with her children Sebastian (left) and Zachary (right)
Rachel Wright-Turner with her children Sebastian (left) and Zachary (right)

A disabled former Hammersmith & Fulham Council officer who suffered from PTSD following the Grenfell Tower fire has successfully sued for firing her and cutting her wages.

Rachel Wright-Turner developed PTSD when supporting residents impacted by the fire.

She was previously in charge of children’s services at Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Councils.

But when she changed roles to Director of Public Services at Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 2018, Ms Wright-Turner was wrongly fired after mental health issues, a tribunal has found.

When she began working at the council Rachel told colleagues she suffered from ADHD and PTSD.

But her colleagues did not believe her when she explained she had ADHD. She had a mental breakdown in front of her colleagues and was put on sick leave.

She was then fired while on sick leave and not given the chance to appeal against the decision.

With the help of lawyers Slater and Gordon, Rachel won an employment tribunal against the council.

The judgment was critical of the actions of a number of council officers including the Chief Executive and the borough solicitor.

The council is now expected to have to pay her a “significant sum” after a hearing to decide the reward takes place at a later date.

Ms Wright-Turner said, “The last three years have been a living nightmare for myself, my children and family.

“I am relieved with the judgement and the truth can now begin to be more widely understood.

“While the implications of the tribunal’s conclusion are devastating, it is fair and they deserve every word of it.

“I would like to thank each and every member of my superb legal team, past and present, who have not only done a stellar job managing my case successfully but who have continuously been a real personal support throughout.”

Associate Karen Murray successfully managed the case at Slater and Gordon while Ben Collins QC of Old Square Chambers represented Rachel at the employment tribunal.

Karen said, “We are absolutely delighted for Ms Wright-Turner who has been through an awful lot over the past three years.

“The judgement is lengthy and scathing of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and deservedly so.

“A local government department cannot expect to get away with treating its employees in such a way.

“Local authorities are often the first port of call for the vulnerable in their communities, and this case highlights the lack of understanding and compassion surrounding hidden disabilities.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said, “We are disappointed and fundamentally disagree with the tribunal’s judgement.

“We are studying it carefully and considering our options.”

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

November 15, 2021