Cheltenham Borough Council is suing its former Managing Director for nearly £1 million, claiming that she hid a history of depressive illness and the fact that she was on anti-depressants when she applied for and secured her job.
Part of their argument is that Christine Laird, in a pre-employment questionnaire, answered ‘no’ to a question about whether she considered herself disabled.
Two-and-a-half years after securing the post Ms Laird went off sick, and eventually left.
When I was in New York I bought a T-Shirt that says “I lied to get the job. They lied about the job. We’re even”. I wear it at work sometimes to annoy the boss. The idea that you can be sued – not just fired, but sued – for something you say in a job application will scare the crap out of everyone who’s ever put the best possible gloss on, say, the amount of experience that they have.
The most interesting thing, though, is that the Council is essentially arguing that people with a history of depression are “disabled”. They may come to regret this argument.
If they win this case, and if the recession means that there is no work in Ireland, then the Tinfamily and I are off to Cheltenham. I’m going to drive to the Borough Council Offices, park the Tincar in a disabled parking spot, slap my packet of Cipramil on the reception desk, and demand disability allowances. (I’m also going to demand a council house, which I will let to Irish punters during Gold Cup week, using the rent that they pay me to fly to Tenerife to see if sunshine affords me any relief).
The UK Government website list a whole load of payments and Tax Credits that I might qualify for. And not just me. Six million people in the UK have a history of depression.
Cheltenham BC can recognise that depression sufferers are ill. In fact, I welcome it. But during this illness we’re expected to raise our kids, drive our cars, pay our taxes, do our jobs. And we do.
Are they sure they want to call us all disabled?