The tribunal ruled harassment was committed when a woman fighting cancer said she had ‘cosy’ days while working at home.    

Ranjit Panesar, HR employee, said that she was looked down upon by her colleagues for not being at work while she was in treatment.

According to her, she was often subjected to demeaning remarks due the ‘widespread perception’ that working at home meant that she was inactive or idle. Her boss even told her that her health wasn’t good enough.

Even the coworker who called her remote work ‘cosy days,’ tried to make it sound like ‘banter.

A tribunal of employment dismissed the defense, saying that “all but insensitive” should have realized that Mrs Panesar was sick and didn’t like the comments.

Now, she is eligible for compensation.

Watford Employment Tribunal (pictured) ruled it was harassment to say that HR worker Ranjit Panesar who was battling cancer was having 'cosy days' when she worked from home

Watford Employment Tribunal, (pictured) found it harassment to claim that Ranjit Panesar was working from home and was suffering cancer.

The hearing heard that Mrs Panesar had started work in delivery company DX Network Services Limited (which has its head office in Slough in Berkshire), in January 2017.

She was diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma in June. Due to the side effects of her medication, she was allowed to return to work a couple days per week.

According to the tribunal, her coworker Scott Agius (a payroll and benefits specialist) said to Mrs Panesar during a January 2019 work-related email exchange: “So, you’re enjoying an extra cozy day at home this weekend?”

She replied: ‘Hahaha* not so cosy day in Northampton actually.’

M. Agius sent Mrs Panesar another email in March 2019. He stated that he was on holiday the next week.

Another time, he messaged her calling her work from home days “cosy days” and then claimed it was just conversation.

Tribunal ruled that there was no evidence for Mrs Panesar’s reciprocal comments.

“Her replies were defensive and she seemed to try to make fun of it. However, it does not reduce the emotional distress and vulnerability that Mrs Panesar expressed.

“A defense to banter” might include Mrs Panesar being engaged, and she giving ‘as good as she got’. But that wasn’t the case here.

“All other than the insensitive or most deliberate should have realized that this was a sick employee who felt vulnerable. They did not want these exchanges.

In June 2017 Mrs Panesar (not pictured, stock image) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was allowed to work from home a few days a week due to her treatment, medication and its side effects

Mrs Panesar, not pictured; stock image

Watford Tribunal heard from Mrs Panesar that her boss Daniel Seabrook had equated working at home to being away work.

He said to Mrs Panesar while he was scheduling a meeting.

This comment was made during a meeting regarding her potential redundancy in the context of company restructuring.

In the meeting, Mr Seabrook continued to tell Mrs Panesar: “Your health hasn’t helped you this year.”

Later, Mrs Panesar complained to Mr Seabrook about feeling ‘looked down upon’ by her colleagues. She felt that she needed to defend herself because she was constantly made to feel bad for working remotely.

Tribunal heard that Mrs Panesar was claiming such remarks were common and repeated.

“She claimed that the company did not value her work from home and that there was an overall perception at her place of work that her home-based activities were inactive.

“Mrs Panesar stated that these comments were a result of an unrelenting and persistent attitude from individuals within this workplace, who felt enough confident to degrade someone suffering from major illnesses because they could not be there every day.

According to the panel, the company failed to properly investigate her complaints regarding the remarks she made.

According to the statement, “DX Network Services officers sought to limit investigation to only those individuals who had an indelible record making such comments. And, we adjudge, closed down Mrs Panesar’s accusations deliberately and unnecessarily.”

“There was not a wider investigation, attempt to interview other people or place Mrs Panesar’s complaint within its proper context.

In July 2019 Mrs Panesar (not pictured, stock image) was made redundant. However, she claimed the process was a 'sham' and she had been preselected for it on the basis of her cancer

On July 2019, Mrs Panesar was fired (not shown, stock photo). She claimed that the whole process was a fraud and that she was preselected on the basis her cancer. 

In July 2019 Mrs Panesar was made redundant. She claimed that the whole process was a fraud and that she was preselected on the basis her cancer.

The tribunal ruled that her claims of unfair dismissal as well as those for disability discrimination were dismissed.

She was able to prove harassment due to the four comments she made regarding her work from home.

Gary Tobin, Judge for Employment, said that Gary Tobin’s comments weren’t just uncalled for but undeserved. [for]I’m happy. [they]These adjustments were reasonable.

Mrs Panesar truly believed the comments infringed on her dignity.

Judge Tobin stated that Mrs Panesar may be able to agree to compensation with DX Network Services Limited without the need of a second hearing.