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Doctor with cancer fired after refusing Kuwaiti order to work in London office during Covid



An elderly doctor with cancer told to shield during the pandemic was fired after refusing a Kuwaiti government order to work in the office, a tribunal heard.

Samir Mohamed was 75 years old and working as a medical auditor for the Kuwait Health Office, in London, when Covid broke out, an employment tribunal heard.

His boss gave him an ultimatum that he must work from the office or not get paid before firing him, and said: “I hope that Allah the Great and the Strong will grant you good health in the period of your upcoming retirement.”

Mr Mohamed, who told the tribunal he would have worked until he was 80, sued the Kuwaiti government for age and disability discrimination.

An employment judge agreed that he was “personally disadvantaged” by being forced to work from the office, ruling that the ultimatum was both “intimidating” and “hostile” and awarding Mr Mohamed £332,590.76 in compensation.

The tribunal in central London heard Mr Mohamed was employed by the Kuwait Health Office in 2009, initially as an in-house doctor and then from 2018 as a medical auditor.

The London-based role primarily involved checking and approving medical expenses incurred by Kuwaiti nationals in the UK, or coming to the UK, for treatment.


The tribunal heard Mr Mohamed contacted a boss, known as Mr Naif, on March 13 2020, to say he could not attend work on that day due to suffering “flu-like symptoms”.

This was 10 days before the country went into lockdown and when “those suffering from such symptoms were advised to stay at home”.

Mr Mohamed, a prostate cancer sufferer, was booked on annual leave from March 24 to April 27. He did not return to work.

In early May, Mr Naif messaged Mr Mohamed to say that he had not received any medical report explaining why he was not able to attend work and would deduct wages accordingly.

The medical auditor provided a GP letter confirming his illness and need to shield and said that he “was not too unwell” to work but could work from home.

However, Mr Naif emailed the auditor saying: “This report proves you are ill and that you worked past your pension age. Evidently, you stand in need of your pension retirement.”

Judge Emma Webster said Mr Naif did not accept the GP letter “as sufficient reason not to attend the offices”.

Two days later, Mr Mohamed received a termination letter which read: “Since you reached the retirement age some time ago, and in view of your health condition, I hope that Allah the Great and the Strong will grant you good health in the period of your upcoming retirement.”


The medical auditor sued bosses for discrimination and harassment relating to age and disability.

He told the tribunal that had he “remained capable he would have continued working until he was 80 years old.

The Kuwaiti government told the tribunal Mr Mohamed was sacked for unauthorised absence.

Judge Webster said the policy “put anyone over the age of 70 at a disadvantage when compared to someone under 70”.

The tribunal did not accept that terminating Mr Mohamed’s contract was a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” as he could have carried out alternative work, such as “manning the hotline”.

The tribunal heard the medical auditor had “alienated” some of his family members in light of the hearing and had also “withdrawn socially” and has failed to find joy in any aspects of his life, such as theatre trips.

The tribunal did not uphold Mr Mohamed’s claims that his dismissal was an act of harassment, associative discrimination in relation to a claim he was dismissed because his wife and daughter had health conditions, that other staff were promoted ahead of him because of his age or disability, and that he was owed unpaid holiday and notice.

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