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Shop worker wins £15,000 after boss told her ‘tough’ when she said she was about to have a migraine


A shop worker whose boss told her ‘tough’ when she warned him she was about to have a migraine and then suffered an attack which left her paralysed on the floor has won £15,000.

Mary Doran’s manager didn’t believe she suffered from the debilitating headaches and even accused her of lying about her symptoms because he thought she was hungover.

The Nisa boss’s mistrust of his employee led to him telling her ‘tough’ when she asked to go home when she started experiencing the early signs of a migraine attack and could barely see.

Instead he told her to sit down in the stock room until she felt better, but she became so unwell she had to lie on the floor for two hours while her boss ignored her.

She was signed off sick for two weeks but upon her return to work was told there were no shifts for her due to her ‘health issues’ and she was forced to resign.

Ms Doran has now won £15,998.96 after an employment tribunal ruled she was discriminated against by her manager because of her disability.

The tribunal, held in Manchester, heard she had suffered from ‘intermittent chronic migraines’ since 2003.

Her consultant neurologist told the tribunal her condition had gradually deteriorated. Her symptoms evolved to include visual disturbance or loss of sight for up to 20 minutes, numbness from the shoulders down with weakness in both arms and legs, giving rise to Ms Doran collapsing.

A migraine attack could also affect her ability to speak and make her become uncoordinated and confused.

Ms Doran told the tribunal the effects of an attack ‘mimic a stroke’ and she is often bedridden for one or two days with ‘significant disruptions to her eating and sleeping patterns’.

During and after a migraine attack she said she experiences weakness, nausea, severe head pain, dizziness and disorientation.

In November 2020 she started working at the Nisa Local store in Dukinfield (pictured), Greater Manchester, as a sales assistant

In November 2020 she started working at the Nisa Local store in Dukinfield (pictured), Greater Manchester, as a sales assistant

While Ms Doran said she takes medication to control this condition, she still suffers attacks approximately once a week.

In November 2020 she started working at the Nisa Local store in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, as a sales assistant. Her manager was identified in tribunal documents only as Mr Maher.

The tribunal heard Ms Doran suffered two migraine attacks at work in February 2021 and had to have time off work.

She was told by Mr Maher they would need to discuss her condition upon her return to work because he was ‘disapproving of her absence’.

Ms Doran said she began to feel like she was being treated differently by her manager, who became impatient with her and did not appear to take her condition seriously, on one occasion accusing her of being absent from work due to a hangover when she was in fact suffering from a migraine attack.

In April 2021 Ms Doran suffered another migraine attack at work. She started experiencing an ‘aura’ – which was a prior warning of these attacks – and immediately told Mr Maher and asked if she could be sent home.

But the tribunal heard he told her ‘tough’ and refused to let her leave work.

Ms Doran carried on but began to experience visual disturbance and could not see clearly enough to be able to serve customers.

At this point Mr Maher sent her to the stock room and told her to sit on a foot stool until she felt better. She lost her balance, and was forced to lie on the cold concrete floor using her handbag to support her head.

Despite her manager being able to see the stock room on CCTV, she was left in that position for two hours and no medical help was sought for her until a friend called Sarah Barber was called to take her home.

Ms Barber found Ms Doran ‘unable to speak, and with a degree of paralysis which prevented her moving easily’.

Two days later Mr Maher texted Ms Doran asking her to cover a shift but didn’t ask her about her health. She then saw her GP who signed her off work for two weeks.

When that expired she told Mr Maher she was fit to return to work as long as she was allowed home in the event of a migraine attack. He replied by text message saying ‘No hours available Mary’.

He told her he thought she should ‘step down from the role with all the health issues you have currently’, adding ‘your level of sickness is very high, and the unpredictability of your health and safety is worrying for you and myself, when your sick note is up I won’t be able to guarantee you hours’.

The tribunal heard Mr Maher hired three new members of staff and kicked Ms Doran out of the staff group chat, despite her still being employed.

She resigned in July 2021 before taking claims of disability discrimination to an employment tribunal.

Speaking of her experience, she said Mr Maher’s treatment of her disability had changed her from a confident person to ‘untrusting and worried’ as she feared she may be ‘left on the floor paralysed and unable to help herself’ again.

Employment Judge Paul Holmes ruled Mr Maher discriminated against Ms Doran by not letting her go home during a migraine attack and not letting her return to work.

He said: ‘Requiring her to remain at work (which, given that she could not do any work, was rather pointless) as [Mr Maher] did clearly amounts to a failure to comply with that duty [to make reasonable adjustments for her disability].

‘To offer her no more shifts, and to refuse to allow her to return to work…. [was] clearly because of something arising in consequence of her disability.’



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