A former football club receptionist has launched legal action against Dundee United over claims bosses at the club discriminated against her due to her disability and “lied” about her dismissal.
Melanie McDermott was sacked in May after six years at the club as telephonist and receptionist at Tannadice.
She had been absent from work for a lengthy spell due to surgery on a chronic back condition.
It was only after she attempted to return to her duties on a phased return to work she was told there were “no hours” for her anymore and she was no longer employed by United, according to documents lodged with the employment tribunal office in Dundee.
Miss McDermott is bringing claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, disability discrimination and demanding missed holiday pay.
Documents lodged with the tribunal service state Miss McDermott is a disabled person who has a chronic back condition.
She has had problems with her back since she was 14; she has three discs missing and various associated symptoms.
In her claim, solicitors state the club’s letter of dismissal is “not genuine” and “contains lies and inconsistencies.” They also claim she never received an official letter of dismissal.
Miss McDermott was formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia in February 2017.
Lawyers say she has suffered from the symptoms for many years prior to the diagnosis and also suffers from depression and anxiety.
She had a lumbar discectomy – a procedure to remove a herniated disc – on July 18 2016 and was absent from work from July 16 that year for the operation.
Her solicitors say this was a major operation and she did not return to work prior to dismissal.
During her whole period of absence Miss McDermott says she only had one meeting with the club, which took place on May 24, 2017.
The papers say United failed to obtain an occupational health report prior to dismissing her.
On May 22 this year Miss McDermott indicated that she wanted to talk about coming back to work and a meeting was arranged for two days later, where she indicated that she was ready to return to work on a phased basis and had discussed this with her GP in advance of the meeting.
A manager at the club responded by stating that they had no hours for her and that her employment was therefore being terminated.
He also made reference to the claimant’s employment being terminated due to long term incapacity, the documents lodged with the tribunal service state.
Miss McDermott was advised by conciliation service Acas that a letter of dismissal was sent to her by recorded delivery but she says she never received this letter.
It was then established through further discussion with ACAS that the letter had been returned to the respondent shortly after it was allegedly sent.
The club were aware the claimant had not received the letter of dismissal but took no steps to deliver the letter to the claimant, the allegations put forth by Miss McDermott and her legal team say.
Ryan Russell, a partner at Dundee based Muir Myles Laverty solicitors who are handling the case on behalf of Miss McDermott, said he could not comment specifically on the case.
However, he confirmed the firm today lodged a claim for unfair dismissal, disability discrimination, holiday pay and wrongful dismissal.
Dundee United have been asked to comment on the case but have yet to respond.