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18/09/2021

KBR employee gets £2.5m payout by tribunal after being forced out of job after 40 years while battling cancer

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David Barrow, 64, won his claims for unfair dismissal, harassment and unfavourable treatment after he was let go from Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) a Texas-based engineering and infrastructure company.

In 2017, Barrow began to experience symptoms of cancer, which at the time was undiagnosed. Instead he was put on strong medication for what he thought was a skin condition, Barrow emailed his superiors to let them know about the side effects he was suffering from.

Barrow’s lawyer, Anita Vadgama of Didlaw, said that these particular steroids have been known to impact moods, especially in men.

Barrow, who was head of programme management for KPB’s government services division in the EMEA region, felt he was undervalued amid organisational changes as well as not receiving a payment raise in line with the promotion he received.

On 6 December 2017, Barrow was called into a meeting with HR and told he was unemployed, with no reason given.   

The tribunal judges found that Barrow’s boss had decided he wanted to get rid of Barrow “and the only way this could be done quickly was to dress it up as a breakdown in trust and confidence.”

Judge Tony Hyams-Parish said KBR created “an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” for Barlow.

Psychiatric evidence submitted to the tribunal determined that KBR’s treatment of Barrow had left him with severe depression and anxiety. This had led to him not being able to work for the last three and a half years.

In a blog post on Didlaw’s website, Barrows wrote: “When I joined KBR in 1980 as a graduate trainee, I never imagined my career with the company would end with a claim in the Employment Tribunal”.

“It has been the most traumatic event in my life, even more than being diagnosed with cancer, and I have been deeply scarred by the way I was treated by the company in return for my loyal service and unblemished record.” 

“The Tribunal award finally acknowledges the wrong caused to me by KBR, even though they are yet to show any remorse. I am relieved that it is all finally over and I can start my recovery.”

A KBR spokesperson said: “KBR respects the court’s decision and is committed to conducting its business honestly and with integrity.”

“We remain focused on always evolving our processes – creating a workplace where our employees feel valued and respected, and affirming that we do not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

Source: CityAM

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