Flatulent barrister denied chance to work from home wins £135k

The Crown Prosecution Service office in Millmead, Guildford
The Crown Prosecution Service office in Millmead, Guildford

A flatulent barrister who tried to sue the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has won £135,000 after his working from home request was denied.

Tarique Mohammed said he couldn’t help his flatulence because it was caused by medication he was taking for a heart condition, an employment tribunal heard.

Asking him to stop passing wind was not only embarrassing, it violated his dignity, the prosecutor argued.

However, a tribunal found it was a reasonable request of his colleague to make – given the size of the office that they shared and the repetitive nature of the flatulence.

The flatulence allegation was part of a series of disability-related claims brought by Mr Mohammed against his employers after he suffered a heart attack.

He accused co-workers and bosses of discriminating against him by deliberately throwing his water bottles away when he left them on a shared desk, asking him to work one day a week 60 miles away and failing to pay for his barrister’s practising certificate while he was on sick leave.

These claims – along with the flatulence complaint – were thrown out by the tribunal.

However, the barrister has now been awarded £135,862 for successful claims against the CPS.

The CPS accepted it had treated him unfairly by not allowing him to work from home two days a week, leave work at 4pm to help him manage his condition and by removing him from court duties.

‘Do you have to do that Tarique?’

The hearing in Reading, Berks, was told that Mr Mohammed started sharing a small office with another prosecutor, Paul McGorry, in 2016.

“After two or three days of [Mr Mohammed] working in the room, Mr McGorry noticed that [he] had flatulence,” the tribunal was told. “He did not know why.

“There were repeated incidents of flatulence in the quiet room. On one occasion Mr McGorry asked [Mr Mohammed], ‘Do you have to do that Tarique?’

“[Mr Mohammed] said it was due to his medication. Mr McGorry asked if he could step outside to do it. [Mr Mohammed] said that he could not.

“The conversation ended there. Neither Mr McGorry or [Mr Mohammed] mentioned the matter again.”

‘Not an unreasonable question to ask’

Employment Judge Emma Hawksworth said: “Many of the incidents about which [he] complains were unrelated to his disability … or were caused or aggravated by [him] over-reacting.

Of the flatulence incident, Judge Hawksworth added: “Mr McGorry’s questions to [Mr Mohammed] were not asked with the purpose of violating [his] dignity or creating such an environment.

“It was not an unreasonable question to ask, when there had been repeated incidents of flatulence in a small office.”

The tribunal found the CPS was guilty of disability discrimination and failing to make reasonable adjustments for refusing his requests, ignoring recommendations from Occupational Health advisors and removing him from court duties.

At the latest hearing to determine his compensation, it was heard Mr Mohammed felt “unsupported and vulnerable, angry and upset”.

Mr Mohammed urged the tribunal to make a recommendation to the CPS that they “take steps to prohibit the spread of gossip and rumour about him”, however the tribunal refused.