To settle or not to settle?

The financial settlement that my employer has offered me is pretty reasonable, but I’m still feeling reluctant to settle the case. I was sure I’d want to, in fact, I was feeling elated about doing so, but part of the settlement was an apology. The apology isn’t anything worthy of the name. It didn’t include the words ‘we are sorry for’ or ‘we would like to apologise for’ even once. It actually read more like an accusation that I was a prima donna. The strong suggestion was that my expectations were unreasonable and that they regretted that I didn’t appreciate their sincere efforts. It made me angry. Really angry.

So, having received that, I had to decide whether to accept the financial settlement, which amounted to a substantial sum or to take the risk of losing my case at the employment tribunal. I was on the fence, but leaning towards settlement, until they didn’t respond to whether I needed to go to the OH doctor, so I went. The doctors report was really positive. With the adjustments she suggested to my workload and time at work I thought I would be able to return to work. If I don’t go back to this job, I don’t think I will be able to return to academia. Without the adjustments I don’t think returning to work would be possible, and I’m not sure that I will manage it even with the adjustments. Still, I think it is worth a shot.

The factors I had to consider were:

1) The EHRC lawyer thought my case had a good prospect of success.
2) The union looks likely to appoint a barrister to represent me, though this isn’t confirmed – so I have to be prepared to represent myself.
3) The apology seriously upset me and made me angry.
4) The confidentiality agreement would have prevented me from talking about it, ever.
5) I may get a smaller award than the settlement that they have offered – or I may get a larger one
6) The enforcement of the equality act, particularly around adjustments, is claimant led. Most people can’t take cases, but I can.
7) I want to be able to talk about it, to write about it, and to help other people who are going through it.

So, the decision not to settle was a mix of personal and political. The apology really was awful, the possibility of returning to work felt like an opportunity to remain in academia and I think it is important that there are people talking about these kinds of cases. Especially in academia. So, for now I’m carrying on. I hope to carry on blogging about it and how it is feeling as I go along. Maybe that will help other people doing the same thing.

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