Dog Mourner Wins Case for Unfair Dismissal

September 7, 2006 ( - A postman fired for taking a week off to mourn the death of his dog won a claim for unfair dismissal at a UK tribunal.

The UK’s Daily Mail reports the tribunal awarded David Portman at least £10,000 after ruling management failed to inform him he could have applied for compassionate leave. The Royal Mail claimed Portman had a poor attendance record and there were no ‘mitigating circumstances’ making it unreasonable for them to fire him.

The Royal Mail said Portman was absent for a total of 137 days during his five years in the job, according to the news report. The tribunal decided his absences were all legitimate and usually a result of on-the-job injuries.

Portman, who is now working as an electrician, found his dog dead at the foot of his bed one morning in September 2004. “She had been with me all the time since she was a puppy when I was 11. I took the rest of the week off because I was so distraught. When I went back to work the manager said I was being sacked. I couldn’t believe it,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

The postman’s other absences included five weeks off with a broken foot after a customer opened the door as he was pushing mail through an awkward letter box, knocking him down four steps. He was also out for 15 days after stepping on a piece of wood as he was carrying mail and spraining his ankle, and was signed out for nine weeks for whiplash injuries suffered in a car accident.