A forklift in a warehouse

Worker sacked for attacking colleague wins discrimination claim

A factory worker who was sacked for attacking a colleague has won a disability discrimination claim after a Tribunal ruled he was suffering from 'diabetic rage', the Mail Online has reported.

The Tribunal heard that, on 4 December 2018, Fox’s Biscuits employee Piotr Dytowski arrived late at work. A colleague, Lucas Ulvenmoe, allegedly made comments about his lateness and gave Dytowski ‘a look’, which caused him to become enraged. He grabbed the member of staff and angrily shouted: “Say that to me again and I will smash your f****** face”.

Mr Dytkowski later told bosses he had recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was struggling to manage the condition, which he thought had affected his behaviour. His employers did not accept his theory and he was fired for gross misconduct. 

At the hearing, Mr Dytkowski shared articles on the phenomena of 'diabetic rage', explaining that “uncontrolled blood sugar levels in diabetes sufferers can leave sufferers more susceptible to strong emotions, including anger”.

His blood sugar levels showed they were spiking high. 

The report said: 

“Mr Dytkowski understands, on the basis of what he has been told by his treating clinicians, that there can be a 'honeymoon' period following a diagnosis of insulin-dependent where the commencement of insulin treatment prompts the pancreas to partially resume its function.

“After some months, however, the pancreas 'dies' and the patient will become entirely dependent on injected insulin. Mr Dytkowski's theory is that this change was happening during [that week], and it accounted for him being unable to control his emotions, feeling horrible and, ultimately, the explosive 'rage' which led to the incident with Mr Ulvenmoe.”

Mr Dytkowski vowed to work with HR, take a diabetes course and engage with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Employment Judge Joanne Dunlop agreed with him and ruled that he was discriminated on grounds of his disability and unfairly dismissed.

Judge Dunlop said: 

“[Mr Dytkowski] is not a medical expert but, at least to some extent, we are entitled to treat him as an expert on his own condition and how he experiences the effects of it. We have found that he was an entirely honest witness and this is not a case of an employee putting forward such an explanation opportunistically - whether right or wrong we are sure his view is genuinely held.

“Given those findings, his evidence that his reaction was different to what it would have been on another occasion, and that difference is due to his unmanaged diabetes, is not something which can be lightly disregarded. Taking account all of the factors above, we concluded that his condition had a significant influence on, or, to put it another way, played a material part in, his behaviour on the day.”

Mr Dytkowski will be awarded compensation from Northern Foods Grocery Group - which trades as Fox’s Biscuits - at a later date.