Eastbourne pest controller who suffered brain injury wins job tribunal

Eastbourne Town Hall
Eastbourne Town Hall

An Eastbourne Borough Council neighbourhood advisor who suffered a brain injury has won an employment tribunal after he was dismissed for allegedly having a relationship with a woman he met while attending a rat control job.

The employment tribunal heard Ian Harling suffered from depression, memory loss, headaches and mood swings after being knocked over in the street by someone trying to evade arrest in 2010. He suffered long-term effects as a result of the brain injury. Mr Harling claimed that after 23 years of service at the council he was laid off because of his disability. The council said he was laid off for his conduct after having a relationship with a customer.

The alleged relationship came to light when the council customer made a complaint to the council to say the rat problem had not been resolved and explained she had been contacted by Mr Harling’s ex-partner saying ‘he has asked out a number of women he has visited for pest control’.

The ex-partner also later described him in a separate email to the council as a ‘sexual predator’.

Employment Judge Sage, who conducted the tribunal, said, the council had not given Mr Harling proper guidance about what amounted to inappropriate behaviour and concluded the case by saying, “The claimant’s claim for discrimination for a reason arising out of disability is well founded.”

He also added, “The claimant had served 23 years without any conduct issues and then his performance and personal conduct appeared to change significantly. This sudden change coupled with the claimant’s own representations to the disciplinary investigation and hearing put the respondent [Eastbourne Borough Council] on notice of the causal link between his behaviour and his disability.”