Disability discrimination at work

  • Posted

Gannons advised an employee on a disability discrimination at work claim. She was injured at work and later unfairly dismissed on grounds of reduced capability.

Our client was injured at work. Because of these injuries she was absent from work for 3 years. She could not return to work in her current role. Her employer undertook a redeployment process which did not succeed. Our client was dismissed after a meeting about her capability.

Disability discrimination at work

It was clear that our client was not fit to return to work in her current role. We relied on her expert medical evidence about her personal injury claim. To proceed with the case, we had to make clear that our client was “disabled” as defined by the relevant discrimination laws. Our client met these requirements.

Disability definition under discrimination legislation

A person is disabled for if she has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Reasonable adjustments

To avoid claims of disability discrimination at work, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments. An employer may discriminate against a disabled employee by failing, without justification, to make reasonable adjustments to help overcome the disadvantages resulting from the disability. The most reasonable adjustment was redeployment. This meant moving our client to another job role in the company to fill an existing vacancy.

Redeployment process

A redeployment process of eight weeks had taken place. During this period our client received job lists with job descriptions by post. Her former employers invited her to apply for any role which she felt she was suited to. However, our client did not succeed in this process. This then formed part of her employer’s decision to dismiss her. However, the company’s own management procedure provided that a different redeployment process had to take place if the employee was disabled.

Result achieved

At the appeal hearing regarding our client’s dismissal, we successfully argued that her employer had not followed the correct redeployment procedure given that our client was disabled.

Reinstatement

Therefore the company reinstated our client. She received back-dated salary from when her notice period ended. Because of her disability, she could not return to work in her current role and a new redeployment process took place. Our client was redeployed to a more suitable department with reasonable adjustments made.

The new role was a lower-level position in comparison to our client’s previous role. However, we negotiated a one-year salary freeze which allowed her to receive her former salary for the first year in her new role.

  • It’s thanks to the help given to me by Gannons that I am now able to go back to work without discrimination against my new circumstances.