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Employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate new employee cost them 18 months’ salary

In the case of a Worker v Airline Service Company, the Complainant was awarded €15,000 by the WRC (18 months’ salary) in compensation over his discriminatory dismissal due to his dyspraxia.

Summary

The Complainant commenced part time employment with the Respondent on 14th March 2018. After  training was completed all new employees were requested to attend a medical assessment. The Complainant attended for medical assessment on 23rd March 2018 in which he did not disclose that he had dyspraxia as it was not required on the pre-medical questionnaire nor was it relevant. Two or three days after his medical assessment he was requested to attend a further medical assessment on the basis that the doctor wished to see him again.  documentation An e-mail dated 26th March 2018 was sent  by the HR Business Partner, Ms. H, to the doctor asking if he has noticed that the complainant “walked with a slight limp and if there was any issue with his hand grip”. There was no response from the doctor in the data access documentation however, he did re-examine the Complainant.

The Complainant was asked a series of questions in this medical assessment and he felt that it was relevant to disclose that he had dyspraxia. The Complainant stated that he was recommended for employment with “task restrictions”. The doctor noted on the medical certificate that “Note history of dyspraxia (not disclosed on original form). This could affect co-ordination when carrying out tasks at speed. He has a driver’s licence + drives normally on the roads. However, unfamiliar vehicles in hazardous environments could present a problem. Good physical strength.” The Complainant submitted that on 23rd March 2018 after the initial medical assessment, the doctor certified the Complainant as fit for employment without restriction but changed his view following the e-mail from Ms. H. During this time, the Complainant received his uniform, Garda vetting, car park approval and an official parking badge, an employee email address and log-in. The Complainant was not contacted after the second medical assessment, but after several attempts to speak to Ms H, he finally spoke to her on 11th April 2018 where he was informed he could not work with the Respondent because the work required working in hazardous conditions and the he would be a hazard. He was told there was nothing he could do. It was also clear from the data access documentation that the  day after he was informed that he could not work, a Health and Safety Officer, Mr B, wrote a report headed “Stephen Dunne Report” which concluded that the Complainant would be a hazard to his fellow employeeswithout ever having met the Complainant or getting an expert report. When Mr B was questioned by the Adjudicator about his knowledge of dyspraxia, he informed her that he had carried out a Google search of the disorder.

Decision

The Adjudicator concluded that the report carried out by Mr B was “grounded on assumptions and generalisations about person with dyspraxia but is not grounded on actual facts about the complainant’s specific condition”. She found that the Respondent had failed to provide the Complainant with reasonable accommodation related to his disability and that he was discriminatorily dismissed.

The Adjudicator ordered that the Respondent pay the Complainant €15,000 in compensation and she also ruled that the firm must conduct a review of its employment policies and practices to ensure compliance with the Employment Equality Acts.

Link: https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/may/adj-00017364.html

29th May 2019

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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