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Sweary BBC presenter sacked for misconduct, not depression

13 Apr 2023
by Sharma Solicitors
Mental health, employment law

A radio DJ who claimed that the BBC sacked him because of his mental health issues has lost his employment tribunal case.

James Hazell was found to have been dismissed fairly by BBC Radio Suffolk for misconduct including sexual comments to female colleagues, and threatening and abusive language.

Mr. Hazell had claimed that he was a victim of disability discrimination, with the BBC dismissing him for “negativity” which was caused by depression.

However Judge Kevin Palmer decided that the reason for dismissal was “clearly not because of disability”. The tribunal heard that Mr Hazell had called colleagues the “C-word” then warned the women not to make a complaint.

He had previously been warned about inappropriate behaviour towards to another colleague, “touching her leg and commenting on the fact she had shaved”, and making a “comment to her about having an erection in a station car”.

The Judge concluded “There is nothing before us to suggest his decision was tainted by the claimant’s disability. The decision to investigate and terminate might be unfavourable but this is not something arising from the disability.”

What is disability discrimination?

Disability discrimination means treating a person less favourably than others because of a recognised disability. In employment law, a disability is a substantial, long-term mental or physical impairment that negatively affects the ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.

A mental health condition like depression can be considered a disability and is ‘long term’ if it lasts, or is likely to last, 12 months.

The Equality Act 2010 protects workers from discrimination because of disability, and employers must make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate their staff’s needs.

There are six main types of disability discrimination:

  • – direct discrimination
  • – indirect discrimination
  • – failure to make reasonable adjustments
  • – discrimination arising from disability
  • – harassment
  • – victimisation.


disciplinary employment law sacking

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