back to article Ex-staffer sues UK's DWP, claims superior blabbed confidential medical info

A Manchester man is suing his former employer, the UK's largest government department, claiming "highly private" information was divulged to his workmates. Aftab Marchant is reportedly seeking £50,000 in damages from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for distress and personal injury caused by what he describes as a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rigorous process

    I am always suspicious when someone includes an adjective where it isn't needed.

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: rigorous process

      True fact, right there.

    2. 8Ace

      Re: rigorous process

      At least it wasn't "robust" this time ...

      1. Stumpy

        Re: rigorous process

        Nope. the process is flimsy as f*ck, but there's rigour in there somewhere...

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: rigorous process

          but there's rigour in there

          Rigor Mortis?

    3. BillG Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: rigorous process

      "rigorous process" = "two men named Vito."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's no shame in having piles, just get your employer to supply you with an extra comfy chair.

    Mine has inbuilt cooling for extra soothing.

    By the way if it's so private and embarrassing why is it splashed all over the news and who leaked the story to the press, the lawyer perhaps ?

    Always wash dirty linen in private.

    1. Mongrel

      RE: There's no shame in having piles

      Says the person posting as AC....

      1) Different people have differing levels of embarrassing

      2) Even if he had no issues with disclosing any medical information that's his decision not the manager s and whoever they copied in.

      3) Washing the dirty linen in private is how you get institutionalised scuminess like the Presidents Club

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: RE: There's no shame in having piles

        @Mongrel - On point 1, a variation, with the same information one's sharing may be situational with s range not being told to others knowing all the gory details.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: There's no shame in having piles

        > 3) Washing the dirty linen in private is how you get institutionalised scuminess like the Presidents Club

        Oh please, do come off that high horse before you do yourself an injury, not had to deal with hen parties or groups of factory women have you ?

        1. Mongrel

          Re: RE: There's no shame in having piles

          "Oh please, do come off that high horse before you do yourself an injury, not had to deal with hen parties or groups of factory women have you ?"

          Yes, but I never got forced to sign an NDA or told to wear my sexy underwear for an event

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: There's no shame in having piles

            >Yes, but I never got forced to sign an NDA or told to wear my sexy underwear for an event

            .......hen parties

            See above, you get paid and have to take off that underwear oh and my last two employers inserted an NDA clause into my contract.

  3. macjules Silver badge

    PAYG Lawyers ..

    Unlikely he will ever see £50k from DWP as JMW Solicitors are one of those, " 'Ello squire, 'ad a fall? Someone else liable? Sale now on, we only take XX% of your winnings"?

    (in my best, pathetic attempt to copy Michael Palin's Blackmail character)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PAYG Lawyers ..

      Invariably, legal fees are calculated separately from any awards for damages. A judge will determine to what level your own legal fees can be claimed from the other party/parties which are paid in addition to the award. What almost never happens is a judge awarding 100% of your legal fees. Judges will tend to look at how you've conducted yourself before making any awards for fees, and will assess things like your eagerness to get into court and whether there was anything you might have been able to do to avoid coming to court at all. If you can reclaim 70% of your fees then you're doing well.

    2. Paul Woodhouse

      Re: PAYG Lawyers ..

      Needs to be done in a Manc. accent though...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If he had to leave by handing his notice in because of the leak then surely it's a case of constructive dismissal and a matter for an employment tribunal ?

    Perhaps there's more to this than meets the eye and there are two sides to every story.

    1. MogKupo

      Sounds like a spiteful superior spreading it around because he'd been asked not to and thinks he's god tbh. You get them in virtually every workplace, it's a consequence of giving power to people who seek it.

      1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

        Or it could have been a p***ed-off, stressed-out team Manager not impressed by the team Malingerer getting another taxpayer-funded holiday due to "medical issues", sending an email to the poor sods working their butts off covering for the clown saying "Can you effing believe it? The skivving bar steward is having another month off sick!".

        Some employees know they can have a certain length of time off with, for example, a "bad back" and then return to work just long enough to "earn" another chunk of sick pay. I once asked someone I worked with why one of the company drivers was off so much and he explained it to me - the git knew exactly how to milk the system so he only did half the hours he should, leaving everyone else to take up his workload as well as their own...

        1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

          so why are you still there?

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          And the perfect way to ensure the guy gets even more money out of the company, plus the opportunity to say "No, I still want to keep the job", plus cause everyone involved more hassle is to splat his private data around the team unnecessarily.

          Nobody else need know WHY he was off, just that he was off. Almost every workplace I've ever worked in understood this... "off-sick" / "medical leave" / etc. is all you need to know.

          The perfect way to encourage a malingerer is to hand them a £50k payout by being an idiot. The perfect way to lose the support of your team is to lose your own job because you spaffed the info everywhere, and still your team has to do the work but without the guy AT ALL, without you, with all kinds of HR hassle to boot, finding replacement staff, and having £50k+ taken out of the salary budget to compensate him.

          If you've got the job title that includes "manager" this should be quite obvious.

    2. Asterix the Gaul

      In the Civil Service there is a well established process for dealing with issues such as this,the breach,of which,is a case for disciplinary action.

      Anyone seeking to use the Civil Service as a platform for their personal grievances are surely stepping onto thin ice.

      It has to be proved that this 'leak' was not a conspired event for instance?

  5. DontFeedTheTrolls
    IT Angle

    Must be a slow news week in the IT World if this warrants publication by El Reg.

    Daily Fail and Manchester Evening News type rags I can understand, but seriously, El Reg?

    1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      DontFeedTheTrolls, I guess you've never worked with someone who seems to get more time "off sick" than the rest of the team get between them if you add all their holiday allowances together...

      1. Rainman

        "DontFeedTheTrolls, I guess you've never worked with someone who seems to get more time "off sick" than the rest of the team get between them if you add all their holiday allowances together..."

        No one "gets time off sick". You fall sick and then take time off to recuperate. You don't get awarded time off for being sick. If you're sick enough your GP might sign you off indefinitely, but the whole point of this article is that frankly, someone elses illness is none of your gerddam beeswax! So what if someone is off sick? Just do your own job and watch your own back. That's the trouble these days, too many sticky beaks that feel that they need to know other people private lives. Sheesh!

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          I've worked in plenty of places were people were let go for being off-sick long-term.

          If you're off-sick it means you're not fit for work.

          If you're not fit-for-work long-term, then it means you shouldn't be doing that kind of work and they shouldn't be insisting you do.

          Just because people run scared of actually acting doesn't mean you don't have an easy and obvious legal recourse to say bye to them. You just have to make sure you're not doing it out of spite and that you give them reasonable recourse in case everything they have ever told you about why they were off happens to be true, and maybe even that there's more that they don't want to share with you for personal reasons.

          Of course, this leaves some scope for abuse, but you can do precisely nothing about that. In the same way that you don't know if someone returning a product actually genuinely couldn't get it working or whether they just want their money back because they overspent at Christmas. It's all part of the cost of doing business.

          More worrying is that, if one person is off-sick, it means your office/department comes to a grinding halt. That's not a well-planned business.

          Hint: I basically never have a day off work. I think my last sick-leave was about 8-10 years ago. Before that, it would be another 8-10 years. So if anyone was going to be upset about people malingering with illness, it should be me.

          But as the guy says - not my business, so I don't care. If someone gets more money than me, more holiday than me, more responsibility than me, a better job title than me, more days off than me, or whatever... good luck to them. If I think I'd getting a duff deal overall, I'll be sure to speak up, don't worry. But if they've negotiated a better deal, kudos to them. It doesn't mean I MUST be given exactly the same, as I have no knowledge of the differences in situations.

          This is my biggest problem with unionisation, by the way, the concept that everyone is equal which means they all get top wages for doing the lowest-common-denominator of work. I've never been a member of a union, as I negotiate my own salary and conditions. Strangely, that means I'm often under onerous NDA's with my employers for getting a better deal than anyone else (and as part of my job I see, manage and have to manipulate salary etc. data so I know I'm not being fibbed to but equally know that even if I found out something that way, it's none of my business as I was only processing that data and couldn't act upon it).

          I think the childish jealousy of "he gets paid more", "she works less hours", "why doesn't HE have to do X", etc. is what tears apart a team much more than any disparity. You know what? The people I see who get the biggest raises etc. more often than not work harder for it, suck up more for it, try harder to get it, and even ASK for it where the other people don't. If you don't ask, you don't get. Feeling hard done by? Ask for a raise. The people I see who get stuck on a wage structure for decades are the ones who "never want to make a fuss".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Wow you are such a cool person I wish I could be like you and be a judgemental twat

          2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
            Flame

            Quote:

            Hint: I basically never have a day off work. I think my last sick-leave was about 8-10 years ago. Before that, it would be another 8-10 years. So if anyone was going to be upset about people malingering with illness, it should be me.

            Well are'nt you the fucking lucky one.

            I had'nt had a day of serious illness ever right to the age of 20 and 1 month(that includes school).

            I then spent 3 days in ICU , followed by 6 months of learning to walk again.

            Never ever be judgemental about something like illness in case it comes and bites you on the arse

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          People do take time off when they're not really sick. This is a thing that happens. The DWP has strictly laid out policies on sick leave and any time there are rules there are people who will abuse them. In a DWP call centre everyone is pretty much earning the same money for the same work so if someone takes as much sick leave as possible without starting any of the processes that could finish their employment then they are being paid more for the same work. These are people who are routinely ill on their partner's day off, always get food poisoning after a European weekend city break and whose health will miraculously improve to the point where they don't take a day's sick leave for the six months that they'd end up in front of a "decision maker" and then fall back into their previous pattern of ill health as soon as they're out of the danger zone. Everyone knows that they're taking the piss but they're such brazen sociopath's that they don't care and won't stop. That doesn't excuse a manager letting everyone the reason someone is off sick but might explain why it happens. Tldr; people call in sick when there's nothing wrong with them.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "but seriously, El Reg?"

      Look through the recent articles on GDPR and have a good think about how this might relate to them. Hint: medical info tied to person's name is PII - Personally Indentifiable Information.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Working as a freelancer my clients don't pay me anything if I'm off sick. It's up to me to ensure there's enough cash in the company account to pay my wages should I do so, but there's no magic money coming in.

        So, if I'm off sick, everyone knows I'm *really* sick (or I just fancied the day off) :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seen it before

    Hopefully, if accurate, he wins. Too many managers abuse their position these days. Probably more so back in the days when you couldn't get anything done about it.

    In a place I worked where the manager of a different department where that department was linked to the other department was also "mates" with people in HR. This manager would then "gossip" all the confidential info they'd got from their HR mate to another friend that we all knew who blabs about everything.

    The amount of breaches via this manager was shocking unfortunately we could never get physical or recorded evidence so couldn't take it further.

    It 100% was happening because there were points where this manager would tell their friend something about someone else before that person knew.That person found out and kicked up a minor fuss but it was just brushed under the carpet. Just a shame the person involved in that case couldn't be bothered with the hassle of taking it futher.

    A simple subject access request would of also caught this manager out in other instances as we were sure they were stupid enough to be doing some "discussions" over corporate email because they weren't aware of "subject access requests".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How did the manager come to possess the information?

    Everywhere that I have worked it was unimaginable that some random bod from HR could have access to medical data.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The clue's in the name.....

    "Aftab Marchant" is actually suing because the DWP has called him out on his bogus "sick leave". You can be sure that when his Court case fails (as is certain), he'll then try to play the race card. It's baked-in to his psyche.

    He'll then waste yet more public money by bring a further case for "discrimination". He'll drag this through as many Courts and tribunals as he can - racking up the legal fees as he goes - whilst remaining "off sick" on full pay due to "stress"!

    This is standard operating procedure for a certain class of ethnically challenged public service employees. It's why >20% of the NHS "managers" are "off sick" at any time......

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The clue's in the name.....

      Well now, no need for this to waste a courts' time then is there? After all, you've sewn this one up nicely. What would you like to happen to this miscreant now?

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: The clue's in the name.....

      "ethnically challenged"

      Really? Wow, no wonder you posted anonymously.

      But you're not a racist, or a bigot, I can tell...

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: The clue's in the name.....

      It's why >20% of the NHS "managers" are "off sick" at any time

      Nothing (of course) with having to do an incredibly stressful job with insufficient resources where peoples lives are at stake..

  9. RedCardinal

    Racist troll is racist

    >>The clue's in the name.....

    Well done for being today's inbred racist troll. No go away and take your shite with you.

  10. Dan McIntyre

    Hardly surprising from the DWP. When I worked at NHS Connecting for Health many moons ago I had the same thing done to me by the head of service and other members of the senior management team as well as HR - one HR person was even emailing confidential details about me to her brother for crying out loud.

    They're all as bad as each other.

  11. The Blind Watchman

    heartbleeds and I dont mean the computer bug

    Once people start claiming large amounts for alleged stress and anxiety I lose all empathy. Plus he works for the DWP. Say no more!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow

    Just read evening news

    The guy actually won his case

    This guy stood up for his rights and good on him

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