Posted on 9.11.15 by David Walton
In recent employment tribunal news, an NHS worker was awarded £115,000 for disability discrimination after their employer failed to make reasonable adjustments. In case that may have fallen under the radar earlier this summer, an employment tribunal held the view that the NHS had committed an act of discrimination against the employee, who was undergoing cancer treatment.
During a redeployment process, the claimant, Mr Waddingham, was required to attend a competitive interview for a new role. Subsequently, Mr Waddingham did not perform well during the interview and was not offered the job. It was held that the NHS failed to make reasonable adjustments to account for his cancer treatment at the time of the interview, which had impacted upon his performance.
It’s important to know that the decision held by the employment tribunal is one in the first instance and is open to an appeal should the NHS decide to challenge the decision.
However, the case is a vital reminder for employers to ensure that they make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to those suffering with a disability, such as cancer.
Making Reasonable Adjustments
The NHS trust in question did allow Mr Waddingham to take breaks at any time during the interview or call it to an end if he did not wish to continue. They were also flexible with the dates and time of the interview. Despite these adjustments, the employment tribunal took the view that the NHS trust did not make enough reasonable adjustments to compensate for Mr Waddington’s disability.
This case demonstrates that it is not all about the employer making large scale adjustments, such as changing an employee’s hours or days of work. Disability discrimination can take place on a small scale by treating the employee differently, which then puts them at a disadvantage. This can apply to many different workplace situations, such as during a formal interview, in a redeployment process or when a contract is being terminated.
The tribunal stated that it would have been a reasonable adjustment for Mr Waddingham to be assessed in an informal manner without the need for a competitive interview by utilising documents already in existence, for example previous appraisals.
For employers to ensure they are not being discriminatory when dealing with their employees it is crucial to think about each situation and how a reasonable adjustment can be made along the way to account for a disability.
The Employment team at Gorvins
If you have an employee or employees who have been diagnosed with cancer you as an employer should seek specialist advice. Our highly knowledgeable employment team can also provide training for organisations on equal opportunities in the workplace.
For further expert assistance in dealing with discrimination in the workplace and making reasonable adjustments or on any other enquiry, give our specialist employment team a call on 0343 507 5151. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.