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Fibromyalgia triggered by disciplinary action at work

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The following question was recently posted in Fibromyalgia Magazine

Dear Brian,

I have been employed by my current employer for over ten years with an exemplary work record. I have never been given a warning, let alone been suspended, until three years ago when I was suspended for one year on full pay for something that I did not do. I was distraught by my employer’s decision and it really knocked my confidence.

Since the suspension, I have not been able to regain my full confidence which caused depression to kick in. I then begun to feel pain in different joints including my elbows and ankles. Three years have passed and I have now been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia that I believe was caused by my employer’s treatment of me. Would I be able to bring a claim against my employer even though there was no physical harm?


Dear Sue,

I am sorry to hear about your employer’s treatment of you and your subsequent development of fibromyalgia. You may be able to bring a claim even though there was no physical harm if we can show that your fibromyalgia was caused wholly or even partially by your employer’s conduct. However, you will have to be diagnosed with clinical depression as you cannot claim for mild depression that is normal for people to experience.

I would also need to consider whether your employer should known that their actions would have caused your depression. The general rule is that employers can assume that their employees can withstand the usual pressures of the job unless that have reason to believe otherwise.

You may also say that the suspension happened three years ago. I will need to consider the exact time of your suspension and development of symptoms in order to determine whether the three year time period to bring a personal injury claim has lapsed.

There are a lot of hurdles to overcome that make these cases difficult to prove. If you are a member of a union or have legal expense insurance, usually found in a Home Contents Policy, you may be able to fund such a claim.

Brian Barr

About Brian Barr

Brian has been a Solicitor for over 35 years, specialising in high value, complex accident and clinical negligence claims. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). He has a particular enthusiasm for high profile and “cutting edge” litigation. Since winning a settlement of £1.25 million for a fibromyalgia sufferer in 1997, he has taken a particular interest in FM and other chronic pain cases for Claimants. Read more on his website

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