A high-flying banker’s obsession with avoiding germs and eating organic food amounts to a disability, an employment judge has ruled.
The London executive, who worked at Swiss bank UBS, was ruled to be disabled after claiming she was discriminated against at work.
In outlining her case, the finance exec, who was described as having a ‘successful career,’ claimed anxiety and a panic disorder saw her become fixated on her health.
This saw her obsess over the negative effects of germs, chemicals, non-organic foods and take ‘extreme steps’ to avoid them.
She was also too afraid to drink tap water, and only allowed her young son to have filtered or Highland Spring bottled water.
The executive, who worked at Swiss bank UBS, developed an ‘extreme’ obsession with eating organic food (File photo: UBS offices)
A judge at the London Central Employment Tribunal said this fixation should be considered a disability under the UK’s Equality Act 2020.
The UBS banker would only let son drink filtered water or bottled water from Highland Spring (File photo: A bottle of Highland Spring sparkling water)
The City banker’s fixation with health saw her drive for two hours to buy groceries from a specialist organic farm shop, Daylesford Organic Farm, in the Cotswold’s on the weekends.
At work, the exec, referred to in the tribunal’s judgement as Courtney, would only buy her food from specific shops, including Planet Organic, even if it meant walking extensive distances or traveling multiple stops on the tube.
After her son was born in 2017, the mother’s health anxieties shifted focus towards her newborn baby as she aimed to protect him from germs and contaminated tap water.
Her anxieties saw the exec refuse to drink tap water, unless it was tested or filtered, and only let her son drink filtered or bottled water from Highland Spring.
She also bought a specialised shower filter system due to concerns about breathing in contaminated water from the shower stream.
Anxieties around contaminated air saw the executive buy a £1,000 air purifier, which she dragged ‘up and down the stairs’ each day.
The executive would walk extensive distances and travel multiple stops on the tube to go to health food shops including Planet Organic during her lunch breaks (File photo: A Planet Organic storefront in London)
Her anxiety around contamination saw her prevent her son’s father and her child’s nanny from preparing or heating up food for her son.
She would also began ‘excessively’ googling dangers to children and became concerned about chemicals in nappies, dummies, and children’s car seats.
The banker said her anxiety around germs first started while she was at a schoolfriend’s birthday party when she was seven or eight years old.
Her concern about bacteria in the birthday cake saw her fake a stomach ache to avoid having to eat it.
She later started eating organic food, underwent acupuncture, and attended a series of self help courses in her 20s before moving to Costa Rica aged 29.
Her time in the South American country saw her wake up at 5am to buy food from an organic market due to anxiety around healthy food.
Shortly following the birth of her son, the banker became concerned about electromagnetic waves and refused to have Wi-Fi in her house.
She later moved to a conservation area in order to avoid any mobile phone mast radiation.
Her concerns also led her to sleep on a sofa bed in the living room to avoid waves she detected in her bedroom.
An employment judge ruled the banker’s fixation on health amounted to a disability while she worked at UBS.
The judge said the ‘extreme measures’ she took were her only means of keeping ‘ruminating thoughts at bay’.
‘Her “obsessional traits” clearly derived from that anxiety and were an attempt to fend off the panic,’ the judge said.
The banker would drive for two hours to buy her groceries from a farm shop in the Cotswold’s on the weekends (File photo: Daylesford Organic Farm Shop in the Cotswold’s)
The judge noted the measures the executive took to protect her health ‘were expensive, time-consuming, exhausting, and damaged her relationships’.
‘Many of the effects were substantial in themselves, but can also be viewed cumulatively as substantial.’
‘For all these reasons, I find that the claimant’s Generalised Anxiety Disorder and her Panic Disorder caused substantial adverse effects on her ability to carry out day-to-day activities,’ the judge said.
UBS was approached by MailOnline for comment.
The employment case was first heard at London Central Employment Tribunal in August 2021 before a decision was published on 5 July 2023.
This content was originally published here.