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NatWest Bank Faces Public Outcry After Sacking Senior Executive Following Cancer Surgery

NatWest Bank is under intense scrutiny and facing public outrage following a recent legal battle with one of its Senior Risk & Compliance executives, Adeline Willis.

The executive, who had been earning £160,000 per year, was dismissed just two days after undergoing cancer surgery, prompting her to sue the bank for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Ms. Willis's case has brought to light alarming details about her treatment during her cancer battle. According to the employment tribunal, she was left feeling "humiliated" when her boss excluded her from morning meetings on her first day back at work after receiving chemotherapy. To compound the situation, Ms. Willis's mother and brother were also diagnosed with cancer during the same period, with her mother tragically passing away later.

An unsettling transcript emerged during the tribunal, revealing an interaction between Ms. Willis's manager, Mary Pragnell, and the bank's HR department. Pragnell reportedly requested a replacement for Ms. Willis after being informed of her treatment plan. Despite acknowledging Ms. Willis's expertise and value in her role, Pragnell expressed concerns about her ability to handle ongoing projects due to her medical situation.

The tribunal made a significant finding, suggesting that Ms. Willis's redundancy was not a legitimate decision but rather tainted with discrimination linked to her cancer diagnosis. As a result, she was awarded an almost £90,000 payout, which includes £35,000 for injury to feelings. Throughout her tenure at NatWest, Ms. Willis had consistently received stellar performance reviews, raising further questions about the bank's handling of employees facing medical challenges and the need for fair treatment and accommodation.

Adding to the controversy, NatWest's CEO, Alison Rose, resigned just days before the payout was awarded. Her resignation came amid a separate scandal involving the bank's de-risking of politician Nigel Farage. These events have cast doubt on the bank's corporate culture and management practices.

In response to the tribunal's decision, a spokesperson for NatWest expressed remorse for the handling of the situation and acknowledged shortcomings in the bank's approach. They emphasized the bank's commitment to preventing similar incidents in the future and recognized the difficulty of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Willis's case.

The case of Adeline Willis serves as a stark reminder of the importance of fair treatment and support for employees facing health challenges. It has placed a spotlight on the need for companies to comply with anti-discrimination and employment laws, emphasizing that employers must prioritize the well-being and rights of their employees, particularly during vulnerable and challenging times. The outcome of this legal battle has sparked discussions on the importance of empathy and sensitivity in the corporate world, urging businesses to foster a more inclusive and compassionate environment for their workforce.



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