There is usually a glut of football on over Easter and somewhat coincidentally there has also been a surge in football related stories this month. The first concerns former Newcastle United footballer Jonas Gutiérrez, who has recently begun a two million pound disability discrimination claim against his former employer.
Whilst few of you will be surprised that a club owned by Mike Ashley, who also owns Sports Direct, may have treated staff badly, the claim does raise some interesting points. Mr Gutierrez signed a four-year contract in 2011 and if he started over 80 games in that period he would automatically trigger a one-year extension.
Mr Gutierrez claims the club deliberately didn’t let him start the requisite number of games due to the club’s board of directors viewing him as liability following his cancer diagnosis in 2013. He also alleges the club were unsympathetic towards him including not contacting him during his treatment and confirming they would not renew his contract via phone call.
The club claims that prior to his diagnosis he was not in their long term plans and that the decision to start, or not to start, him in games was for tactical reasons and at the manager’s discretion. They also claim they thought the player wanted privacy during treatment and have dismissed other employees via phone call.
The judgment is due next month so be sure to keep an eye out because it could have a significant impact on how cancer-related disability issues are handled.