Employment Law Explained

Category Archives: disability discrimination

Workplace Bullying Worst for Gay, Young and Disabled People

If you’ve got learning disabilities, chronic illness, are young or gay, you’re more likely to be the victim of workplace bullying, according to a four year long survey of 4,000 people conducted by the Universities of Plymouth and Cardiff. The survey was reported in People Management Magazine Online yesterday.

The figures are fairly startling, even though those most likely to be targeted aren’t that surprising.  Clearly behaviour learned in the playground runs deep.  The survey reported that 47% of UK workers faced unreasonable treatment, which included being subjected to an unreasonable workload, having their views ignored and “employers not following proper procedures”.

Case Round Up 25th January 2010

There have been some interesting reported cases over the last couple of weeks on a broad range of topics.  For instance,


Legal Representation at Internal Disciplinary Hearings

Seven Ways for Employers to Avoid Stress at Work Claims

Yesterday Ian Barratt of Mind Strengths Ltd published his “Seven Top Stress Management Tips for Employees”.  Today I am publishing my “top tips” for employers hoping to avoid claims for stress at work from being commenced against them.   

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Employers have to repay sick pay

Some good news for employees came out last week with the decision by the European Court of Justice in Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA that says if an employee is sick whilst on holiday, they can retake the holiday later on or carry the days lost over to the next year.

Not surprisingly employers’ representatives are unhappy about it as it places additional burdens on them. It also increases the risk of unscrupulous employees taking advantage. No guidance is offered by the ECJ on how this could be policed. Employers can only insist on a sick note from GPs after seven days absence.

How (not) to sack someone

As an employer, if you want to avoid your name appearing in the Metro or any of the other free papers, try to avoid sacking employees suffering from cancer by email.  This is the moral from the recent report concerning Melinda Bolnar, a 27 year old teacher suffering from bowel cancer and who had just endured seven months of chemotherapy and given a 30% chance of survival.  According to the report it is alleged that her private school sacked her by email.  I should point out that the case is due to be heard at an Employment Tribunal later this year and the above report are merely the employee’s allegations against her employer and not the proven facts.

Riam wins

I was pleased to learn that Riam Dean, the law student who sued Abercrombie & Fitch for wrongful dismissal and unlawful harassment (because of her disability) won her case at the London Central Employment Tribunal.  According to The Independent today, she was awarded £7,800 compensation for injury to feelings, £1,077.37 for loss of earnings and £136.75 damages for being wrongfully dismissed.  It is reported that she did not succeed with her claim for “direct” disability discrimination which the ET thought was “not well founded”.   I would be interested to read the law report on this case, if it ever gets published, for the reasoning behind the decision. I’ve posted before on the case (click here).

Not the right look for Abercrombie & Fitch … allegedly

Riam Dean’s case against the American clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch caught my eye this week. Last summer she had a holiday job working as a shop assistant at the Savile Row branch of A&F.  She alleges she was told to leave the shopfloor and work in the stockroom, for not complying with the company’s strict “look” policy.  Her crime?  She was wearing a white cardigan.  Apparently (and this was all news to me) A&F have a very strict policy on the appearance of their staff which doesn’t include white cardigans it would seem.  This however, wasn’t a claim under the Employment Equality (Prevention of Discrimination to Cardigan Wearers) Regulations, which have yet to be promulgated.  It was instead a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act because Riam wore the cardigan to disguise her prosthetic lower left arm.  She was self-conscious about the join between her arm and the prosthetic at the elbow. She says she had previously been given special permission to wear the cardigan.  The case is ongoing at the moment, the ET hasn’t decided whether to accept her allegations or not and it will be interesting to see the result.  However, if her allegations are upheld it will be a shameful episode for A&F.