A lawyer who was suspended for telling a joke likening Africans to cannibals has won a discrimination case against his legal firm because he was suffering from mental health issues at the time, a tribunal has ruled.
Mike Taplin, a managing partner at a national firm based in Derby, made an offensive joke, remarked about the size of his penis and compared the terms LGBTQ to GDPR during a speech at a legal conference.
Horrified managers launched disciplinary action, suspending the 'highly successful' solicitor while an investigation took place.
But they failed to take into account that the 56-year-old had only just returned from time off work for stress, anxiety and depression and was in a 'fragile' state of mind when he gave the talk.
An employment tribunal has since concluded Mr Taplin was the victim of disability discrimination because the firm's chairman pushed for his suspension having come to believe that supporting his mental illness was a 'diversion' from the business.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The solicitor - who resigned from the company Freeth's following the disciplinary action after 19 years there - is now in line for compensation after successfully suing them.
Mike Taplin, a managing partner at a national firm based in Derby, made an offensive joke, remarked about the size of his penis and compared the terms LGBTQ to GDPR during a speech at a legal conference
A hearing in Nottingham was told property expert Mr Taplin had been appointed Managing Partner at the company's Derby office in 2008 and turnover had increased tenfold under his leadership.
However, he was a self-confessed workaholic who regularly put in 13 hour days, starting in the office at 7am.
By the end of 2015 the tribunal heard he was starting to suffer from deteriorating mental health, and by the end of the following year was assessed as being 'burnt out'.
Chairman Colin Flanagan tried to persuade him to take some time off so he could come back to work refreshed, but Mr Taplin struggled to stay away from the office.
He was prescribed anti-depressants and later in the Spring - after he took some time off - the company urged him to let a colleague take over some of his responsibilities.
In March 2017, Mr Flanagan wrote to him using a football analogy to urge him to slow down.
'You have lost a yard of pace and can no longer expect to bang in 30 goals per season,' he wrote. 'You must drop back into midfield and don't try to cover every blade of grass or play every game.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'You can stay on as 'club captain' but leave the captaincy on the field to someone else.'
The tribunal - chaired by Judge Rachel Broughton - heard Mr Taplin was very upset by what he saw as a 'damning critique' and by Mr Flanagan's advice shortly afterwards to be 'more jovial around the office'.
'To give an instruction to someone with a depressive mental health condition who is taking medication, to in effect 'cheer up'...is grossly insensitive and really quite irresponsible and reckless,' the tribunal found.
The offices of Freeth's in Derby, where Mr Taplin worked as a solicitor for some 19