A former army officer has been fired from his high-flying hedge fund manager role shortly after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Michael Johnson has taken his former employers, Fortress Investment Group (FIG,) to court for disability discrimination, hoping to see a multi-million pay-out.
The 56-year old claims that by the time he was told things were “not working out” in July last year, he was already exhibiting signs of the degenerative condition.
Motor neurone disease is a progressive illness which attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, weakening muscles and affecting how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.
Finding it extremely difficult to walk and even stand by the time of his diagnosis and eventual dismissal, Mr Johnson claims he was sacked because of the illness.
In response, FIG claim to have had no knowledge of Mr Johnson’s illness or him having any serious medical issues before his employment was terminated. FIG also claims that no other employees noticed anything wrong with him beyond a “slight limp”, which they put down to a “minor sports injury”.
Mr Johnson claimed these arguments were “not only implausible, but frankly insulting”.
Mr Johnson’s request to three judges at the Central London Employment Tribunal looks to find FIG guilty of disability discrimination in relation to his dismissal. The firm argues that he was dismissed wholly as a result of his performance.
In a witness statement before the tribunal, Mr Johnson condemns FIG for his unlawful dismissal.
“I have no doubt that I was dismissed because of my disability, whether directly because of it… or because [my boss] questioned my commitment because of my frequent absences from work”, the statement said.
During the tribunal, Mr Johnson informed the court that his condition was so bad that he became unable to walk to the tube station and eventually had to get a taxi to work each day.
The case continues.