Autistic lecturer with anxiety wins legal case against BPP university

Autistic lecturer who was described as ‘mad as a box of frogs’ by bosses at private London university wins her disability discrimination tribunal

  • Elizabeth Aylott, 50, worked at BPP University in London for over 10 years 
  • She suffered from depression and lost her partner and father during this period
  • She was also diagnosed with autism after she had left her role in April 2019
  • Despite these struggles, her bosses at the university failed to give her help
  • Mrs Aylott was overworked by her employers and was not offered medical help

A university lecturer with special needs has won a discrimination claim after she was overworked by her former employers which led to severe anxiety.

Elizabeth Aylott, 50, successfully sued BPP university, a private organisation in London, for disability discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal. 

Mrs Aylott suffers from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which went undiagnosed until after she had resigned from the role in April 2019, while she was also signed off by doctors for anxiety and depression whilst working at BPP. 

Elizabeth Aylott (not pictured), a former lecturer at BPP university in London (pictured) has won a disability discrimination case against the organisation after she was overworked and denied medical support despite suffering from anxiety and depression during her time there.

Despite her disability, London Central Employment Tribunal heard Mrs Aylott’s boss, Juliette Wagner, describe her as ‘mad as a box of frogs but a good worker’.

Judge Timothy Adkin described  the comment as ‘inappropriate and unprofessional’. 

Mrs Aylott, who specialises in HR and employment law, began working at the private university in 2009, but her employers failed to notice several warnings of the lecturer’s struggles.

The mother-of-two became a widow two years after joining the organisation, while she also lost her father and saw her son become seriously ill during her time working at the company.

Despite these personal hardships, Mrs Aylott was often asked to work up to 60 hours a week and even was forced to work Bank Holidays. 

The tribunal heard her former boss, Juliette Wagner (pictured) describe her as ‘mad as a box of frogs’ despite her condition. Mrs Aylott (not pictured) also lost her partner and father whilst she was working at the private university in London

Her request to have her referred with a medical professional was rejected by another boss, Steven Shaw, as he claimed her stress was ‘her perception’ and that working long hours like this was ‘normal’.

As the work mounted up, the lecturer began to have suicidal thoughts and was driven to drink – she was in need of three glasses of wine to help her sleep after work, before drinking four or five gin and tonics to ‘self-medicate’.

Mrs Aylott said: ‘I believe I was treated differently because my issue was a mental health issue… I was relying on alcohol to support me.’ 

Judge Adkin, who said Mrs Aylott should have been referred to Occupational Health, added: ‘The claimant said that she had suffered a breakdown, felt overloaded and could no longer cope. 

‘She mentioned being a widow and raising two children. Mr Shaw suggested that her feelings of stress were based on her perception.

Mrs Aylcott won her case at the London Central Employment Tribunal (pictured) and a remedy case in July will determine how much compensation she will earn

‘Mr Shaw was plainly of the view that managers working in excess of contractual hours was “normal”.

‘He also seemed to be of the view that the claimant was experienced enough to manage her workload.’

BPP University specialises in law and business amongst other fields such as technology, banking, dentistry and nursing. 

The extent of Mrs Aylott’s compensation will be determined at a remedy hearing in July. 

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