My boss fired me out of the blue after I got breast cancer – now I've won £32k | The Sun

A MUM who was fired after being diagnosed with breast cancer has won more than £32,000 in a discrimination claim.

Marketing manager Lucy Lyddall was under-performing in her job while she was battling the disease but her managers never told her they were unhappy, an employment tribunal heard.

Rather than speak to the 50-year-old about improving her work, the unsuspecting executive was instead given "positive reinforcement" by bosses.

Then, when she returned from time off to recover from breast cancer treatment, she was "completely shocked" when she was sacked.

Company director Charlie Wooldridge later openly admitted they didn't want to "send her negative feedback" and put her under more stress.

Defending herself without a lawyer, Mrs Lyddall successfully sued The Wooldridge Partnership Ltd, a multi-million pound construction business in Surrey, for disability discrimination.


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She won £32,351 in compensation, with a judge in Reading, Berkshire, slamming the business for firing her "at a point of exceptional vulnerability".

Mrs Lyddall – who bought herself a Porsche to celebrate her victory – said she made the "daunting" decision to fight the company, which boasts of having a £45million turnover, as they "tried to shred my character and professional reputation".

"I couldn't afford to pay a lawyer so I did the best I could," she said.

"The things they were saying about me were so unjust."

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Mrs Lyddall, who came up with marketing strategies for some of Wooldridge's businesses in its retail, hospitality and leisure portfolio, began working for the firm in March 2021.

Just two months later, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer and had to take time off for hospital treatment.

She then took more time off in July for further treatment and her wedding to plumber husband Chris, 37.

When she returned to work in August 2021 – the day after her short honeymoon – Costas Constantinou, a consultant to Wooldridge, told her she was being "let go" as "your vision is not their vision".

A "shocked" Mrs Lyddall said it was "completely unexpected" as "at no time did anyone talk to me about my performance".

"In fact, all I received was positive reinforcement," she added.

Mr Constantinou, who had a "good relationship" with Mrs Lyddall, said there were a "number of examples" related to "poor performance", including substandard social media posts and work on websites.

He said she "failed to engage with the directors and stakeholders, failed to deliver, and did not develop a brand identity".

It was the worst time of my life, it was devastating.

Mrs Lyddall disputes allegations that her work was unsatisfactory, but admitted a number of "serious errors or faults" which she says were not serious enough to justify dismissal.

When Mr Constantinou was asked why he didn't speak to her about enhancing her work, he said: "I do not think that is the right approach."

Mr Wooldridge, who reportedly abandoned a professional polo career to take over the family business, said he didn't think it was "fair" to email her negative feedback as she had only been with the company for a few weeks.

Mr Wooldridge also told her: "Around the time that this was being considered is about the time you told us the news and that you were going off and so obviously that is not really the time to be sending you emails of negative feedback from within the team.

"Obviously it was the decision made that we should not put you on any more stress."

Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto ruled Mrs Lyddall had been the victim of disability discrimination.

He said Mr Wooldridge had her disability and medical treatment in mind when choosing not to criticise her and provided no warning that her dismissal might be imminent if her performance did not improve.

The judge said the case had a "serious and significant impact" on Mrs Lyddall, and she had lost her job at a "point of exceptional vulnerability".


He also said that she could not have known she was failing at work, and concerns about her performance were not serious enough to justify termination of employment.

Today, mum-of-one and stepmother-of-two Mrs Lydall said: "It was so difficult, I was still going through treatment at the time.

"I cried when they told me. I loved my job and thought I was doing brilliantly.

"I didn't accept the reason. I was in shock that it had happened.

"It was the worst time of my life – it was a devastating diagnosis as it affects everything in my life.

"I thought Costas and I were great friends and I respected him.

"You can give your faith to those people and it means nothing."

Following her court win, she bought herself her dream motor – a Porsche Cayman S – after her husband told her: "Just get it, life is short."

Mrs Lyddall, who had 10 days of intensive radiotherapy to treat her cancer and for the last two years has taken drugs every day to treat it to be "fighting fit", now works as a part-time assistant merchandiser.

She has vowed never to return to marketing, which she did for 30 years, as she has "lost her confidence".

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