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Secretary nicknamed “Peg” by solicitor employer for limp wins disability discrimination case at employment tribunal

A law firm’s secretary nicknamed “Peg” by her solicitor employer because she walks with a severe limp has won her case for disability discrimination at an employment tribunal.

Janet Goodwin, 53, described to the tribunal in Cardiff how she was “mocked and mimicked” in the law firm office.

Senior partner Barry Beck had been accused of following disabled Mrs Goodwin around their offices copying her pronounced limp.

Mrs Goodwin told the tribunal she was left in floods of tears after being mocked as “Peggy” or “Peg Leg” by Mr Beck.

Mrs Goodwin, who suffers from severe sciatica, said she was the “butt of jokes” in the law firm office.

She told the Cardiff employment tribunal other partners in the law firm just laughed at Mr Beck’s mimicry of her limp.

Mrs Goodwin. who has four grandchildren, left her £14,000 a year job because of the way she was treated.

She told the tribunal: “Mr Beck called me Peg on numerous occasions and followed me around pretending to be limping.

“I found it offensive and I told him on many occasions that if he was in as much pain as me he wouldn’t like us to follow him like that.”

Mrs Goodwin worked for Jeffreys and Powell Solicitors in Brecon, Powys, for four years before leaving.

Her condition was so severe that she was off work for four months after an operation which failed to cure the problem.

The Cardiff tribunal upheld her claims for constructive dismissal and disability-related discrimination which it ruled were well-founded.

But the tribunal dismissed Mrs Goodwin’s claim of harassment.

The tribunal will decide on compensation for Mrs Goodwin at a later date when full reasons for their ruling will be given.

The firm had denied her claims of disability discrimination, constructive dismissal and harassment. They claimed it was just office banter.

Responding to yesterday’s verdict Mrs Goodwin said she was pleased at ruling.

“I would have loved to have kept working at the firm fior many more years but I was put in an impossible position,” she added.

Her solicitor Julia Richards said: “We are satisfied with the ruling which amounted to the fact that Janet had no choice but to leave the company because of the way she was treated.”

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