Breast cancer sufferer unfairly sacked by Romford Greyhound Stadium

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 January 2017

Valerie Axon who has won her case against Coral for unfair dismissal

Valerie Axon who has won her case against Coral for unfair dismissal


A 60-year-old woman who spent 23 years working at the Romford Greyhound Stadium has won an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

Grandmother-of-five Valerie Axon, of Goldsmith Avenue, Romford, won her case against owner of the dog track Coral on December 23.

The tribunal ruled that part of the reason for her dismissal was that she had suffered breast cancer.

She said: “I’m so happy that I finally have justice.

“I was absolutely devastated when I was dismissed. It’s affected me and my family both financially and emotionally.

“I live near the stadium and even when I wasn’t working I could pop in to see everyone, but I feel like I have to avoid it altogether now.”

Mrs Axon found a lump in her breast, which turned out to be cancerous, in September 2014 and took six months off work for treatment.

Following an operation to remove the cancer, she returned to her role as retail manager at the stadium.

But in September 2015, she found another lump and after visiting her doctor, who confirmed it was suspicious, Valerie said she told her manager that she would need to go for tests.

The following week, Mrs Axon was suspended after allegations that she had been drinking while working.

She was then sent a letter of dismissal a month later by the dog track in London Road, Romford.

Prior to Mrs Axon telling her manager about the lump, disciplinary hearings were held in regards to all members of staff drinking on duty, giving final warnings to those in management positions.

However, the East London Employment Tribunals Service found evidence provided by Coral management that Mrs Axon had been drinking during work hours was “unimpressive” and the explanation in the dismissal letter was not “particularly convincing”.

A member of the management staff also said during the tribunal that she was afraid she might have had to cancel her holiday abroad if Mrs Axon had to take long-term absence once again for treatment.

It was considered “plausible” that this would cause difficulties for her.

A Coral spokesman said the company was extremely disappointed with the outcome and considering whether to appeal.

Following the dismissal and further tests, it was found that the lump in Mrs Axon’s breast was not cancerous.

She said: “I have loved working there. Before I began my job, my husband took me on our first date there and we celebrated our wedding anniversary at the track as well so the place means a lot to me. It’s a shame it had to end like this.”

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