A recent article in the media has reported a bank employee has been awarded £9,692 by an Employment Tribunal following success in a disability discrimination claim whereby it was found that his employer failed to make reasonable adjustments.
It has been reported that the claimant had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2016, which was recognised in the claimant’s occupational health report as fulfilling the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.
It has been reported that the claimant underwent multiple occupational health assessments which, amongst other recommendations included that it should be ensured that toilet and washroom facilities be near at hand.
It is understood that a number of branch moves resulted in continued poor access to toilet and wash facilities with the recommendation of the occupational health assessors appearing to having been simply overlooked.
It has been reported that the claimant suggested an adjustment which could have made his access to facilities to the extent required achievable. A suggestion which is understood to have been similar in nature to the arrangements provided at his original branch but such was not followed and it was determined by the tribunal that the employer did not provide evidence to support that the suggested adjustment was not reasonable.
It has been reported that the employer argued that the disadvantage suffered by someone who desperately needed the toilet but cannot gain immediate access would affect anyone. However, this was not accepted by the tribunal and it was concluded that the claimant was placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to somebody who did not suffer from his disability, which constituted a failure to make reasonable adjustments on the employer’s part.
It understood that the employer was therefore ordered to pay the claimant £8,000 in respect of an award for injury to feelings and £1,692 in respect of interest.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments
Employers and other organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments when a provision, criteria or practice/physical feature of their premises puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with others who are not disabled.
The duty is to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the individual being subjected to the disadvantage.
The aim of this duty is to ensure that a disabled person’s employer or organisation’s policies, practices and premises are adjusted as far as is reasonably possible to provide for them to be as close to the standard enjoyed by others without their disabilities.
The duty recognises that this should include the removal of physical and non-physical barriers encountered by disabled individuals to enable them to engage in employment and access other services with as much ease as non-disabled members of the workforce or community.
The test applied by the tribunal and the court is reasonableness. In gauging the reasonableness of a suggested adjustment to accommodate disabled employees or consumers, a number of factors including the nature of the organisation involved, their financial resources and the cost of the adjustment, will be considered. These factors will then be considered against the nature of the adjustment proposed and the extent of the disadvantage caused to the disabled individual due to the failure to implement the suggested amendment. The disadvantage will need to be proven to be more than minor or trivial.
How we can help you
If you feel that you may have been subjected to discrimination, it is important to remember that there are strict time limits to bring such a claim in the Employment Tribunal and County Court. It is therefore important that you seek specialist legal advice without delay following an incident of discrimination.
By Sophie Brown, employment law and discrimination advisor