Thursday 29 April 2021 2:54 pm

Man forced out of job after 40 years while battling cancer wins £2.5m payout

Former KBR employee David Barrow has been awarded more than £2.5m after his employer’s decision to dismiss him for discriminatory reasons.

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

The decision was made at a London employment tribunal.

Bloomberg News reported Barrow, who was head of programme management for KPB’s government services division in the EMEA region, began to feel undervalued amid organisational changes and not getting a raise in line with the promotion he received.

In 2017, when he had begun to experience symptoms of cancer, which was the time was undiagnosed, and while on strong medication for what he thought was a skin condition, Barrow complained to his superiors via email.

Anita Vadgama of Didlaw, Barrow’s lawyer, said he was suffering from side effects of the medication, and was not his usual self. She said oral steroids have been known to impact moods, especially in men.

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

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 also determined that his employer’s treatment of him left Barrow with severe depression and anxiety, which 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 the company in 1980 as a graduate trainee, I never imagined my career 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 spokesperson for KBR 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.”