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Disability rights and dismissal?

kitty1981kitty1981 Posts: 5Member Listener
edited April 2017 in Disabled people
Hi my name is Leigh. I live in Kingston upon hull. I started my employment with hull city council in 2003 and worked my up to my last post in 2006-2015. I am registered disabled due to the fact I have temporal lobe Epilepsy. This was a result of meningococcal meningitis within 2 years of age. I am registered with a neurologist with hull royal infirmary via my neurologhist. I regularly attend appointments with my neurology nurse who has always been able to verify/provide this information. I have never been ashamed of my disibility and always declared my disibility during interview as it never affected my work until the latter stages of my employment. However I feel that the information given was a reason to push me out. During my employment in 2006-2015 my first manager was lovely understanding and had an open door policy if I had any concerns. We expanded in our team after the first 2 years. This meant change in management. My new manager at first was ok but eventually i realised she was cold and very not so considerate and was not so understanding of my needs and concerns. This caused me to become stressed and anxious to the point where I would withdraw myself and refer back to my previous manager. Eventually things became so awkward i became upset and frustrated and suffocated by the situation I could not confide or talk to her not feel comfortable with her but this had nothing to do with my job. I whistleblew to the head of department at that time and I was moved to another team. I thought that this would eventually help the situation and that they were serving my best interests. Eventually history repeated itself and my last manager was of a micro management attitude but this time it was also impacting my healtb and my work. The work kept increasing my epilepsy was worsening so i kept informing my manager but she claimed this was not the case and although I had Unison representation they manipulated the facts in their favour as they knew I suffered short term memory by eventually not allowing my rights at work via alterations/adaptations or representation in meetings. Eventually this led to my stress and anxiety increasing impacting on my epilepsy and short term memory. I was advised by my Unison rep to stay away until resolved until my first manager turned up unannounced to state i had been fired! This has been since 2015 they now refuse to give a reasonable reference using my sickness as their excuse even though they caused the majority of this and now I have not been able to get a sustainable job since. I have worked since I was 15 and never been out of work until now. I tried to go via legal aid and Unison but they both serve the same solicitor upon Tribunal which was unsuccessful and counterproductive. I even went to my local MP who basically in a nutshell wrote me a letter saying sorry not my area. Please help me I can work I want to work it's my right. I am now on ESA and registered with Remploy as I cannot get a regular job without a supported employer.

Replies

  • SnowbirdSnowbird Posts: 6Member Listener
    Hello @kitty1981 - or should I say Leigh!

    First, from what you describe, you have clearly had a very rough time with it all. I am particularly concerned to hear that your union does not appear to have been very helpful. (Sometimes they can give this impression, particularly if they do not view a case as having any collective gain.)  Secondly, please understand that I am no expert but I do have some personal experience of disability discrimination, both in and outside the workplace. 

    My first question to you is when did all this happen or, rather in your case, when did it end, ie the date you were dismissed? This is critical because there are strict time limits that apply if you are thinking you might go to an employment tribunal (if you have not already done so) for disability discrimination.  If you have not, in the case of employment this is 3 months minus one day from the date the discrimination happened or, in the event of it being ongoing, the date it ended which is usually when the person subject to discriminatory treatment is dismissed in a final act of discrimination. The same would apply if you were able to go down the unfair dismissal route.  

    If you are within the time limit, you can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal Service (ETS) and you can do it yourself, ie without a union rep, but it is not for the faint hearted!  My next question, assuming you were within the time, would be to ask if you have a chronology, a log (or diary in effect) charting the events and instances which contributed to your dismissal.  If this process had started while you were still employed, your union rep should have asked you to prepare one because it forms the basis for any grievance and onwards in the event of an ETS claim.  If you do not have one, this can be both time consuming and challenging to put together.  Nowadays there is a fee payable but if you are in receipt of benefits and do not have other income or savings, you can apply to have the fee remitted.

    So, if you can answer yes to the time limit and yes to having a chronology, unless you are so well within the time limit there is a chance you can prepare one within the time limit from which to form your claim we can talk about next steps.  One way that you might find yourself still within time limits is that you tell me they refuse to give you a reasonable reference so the date they last did this becomes your "incident date".  

    However, it is incumbent on employers, when providing a reference, to take "reasonable care" that it is true, accurate and fair, to both the employee and employer.  In short, if you have had a lot of sick leave, they are duty bound to disclose this.  The fact that their behaviour towards you might have contributed to, or completely caused the sickness absences (not always easy to prove) I think would be classed as a separate matter that should have been dealt with first, via the organisation's grievance (and appeal if necessary) procedure before possibly taking it to the ETS when, assuming a favourable, or part favourable outcome, the provision of an acceptable reference might be negotiated as part of a settlement.  

    The snag, with these negotiated references, is that the information provided tends, almost by necessity (so as not to disadvantage the employee), to be bland which can sound an alarm bell to an alert potential new employer. In other words, it can be a case of being "damned if you do, and damned if you don't". This is not to say you shouldn't give it a try because, equally, "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and there are instances where discrimination cases have been won on the failure to provide a helpful reference. In Case ref: Pnaiser v NHS England & Anor UKEAT/0137/15/LA, the claimant successfully claimed disability discrimination against both the old, and potential new employer.  Being realistic though, such cases are rare, and only 3% of discrimination cases succeed...

    An alternative course of action might be to serve a personal injury claim on your former employer if you feel that they have contributed to, or caused, a deterioration in your health.  The time limit for this is 3 years but you need to have pretty convincing evidence which is not easy when it comes to "hidden" (or less obvious to some) symptoms of stress and while links between poor mental and emotional health and physical health are well documented, they tend to be anecdotal rather than scientific.

    More importantly though, none of this will guarantee the possibility of future employment which, quite rightly - and very understandably, seems to be your main aim. Indeed, re-reading your post, I am not sure that you have not already been through the tribunal process and my response has not been a case of trying to teach grandmother to suck eggs!


    So, to matters of employment.  Forgive me, but who says you cannot get a job without a supported employer? And can I ask you to clarify what you mean by a "supported employer"?  I have not come across this term before. Do you mean an employer who offers "supported employment" or a "supportive employer"?  
    Can you tell me what kind of support you require?  How under control is your epilepsy?

    Without knowing you personally, my advice is always to encourage people to try and learn new skills, either as part of a retraining package for something new, or to improve their employability in their chosen field.  

    The other, classic, way into working again is to volunteer if you can.  In this way you, in effect, create a new CV, or section of one as you detail new and/or enhanced skills and experiences and rebuild your reliability through regular attendance.  It will also help by providing you with structure in your day and boost your confidence.  There are websites which advertise for volunteers or you could try your local Volunteer Bureau.  

    I could go on, but I have already written at some length but am not sure whether I am on the right track as I am lacking specific knowledge and information about you.
     
    Let me know if you think I might be able to help you any better; I am not convinced I have hit the mark this time.  

    With best wishes,

    Snowbird

  • kitty1981kitty1981 Posts: 5Member Listener
    Dear snowbird thank you so much for taking the time to answer my post in such depth and detail. I will come back to you asap in the meantime a Tribunal did take place but we were self representing against the council and this was dismissed. We paid the fees required but there was also a lot of paperwork stress and then the council cut the deadline date for me to hand in my appeal so we were not even ready. I was upset disappointed and furious.
  • kitty1981kitty1981 Posts: 5Member Listener
    In addition upon my Tribunal which the judge went on holiday for 2 weeks and made me wait then on return the council was late in sending the bundle to us in order for us to prepare but this then caused delay and we had less than 24 hours to prepare a witness statement! Which in turn led to my appeal being unsuccessful and counterproductive and increased seizures.
  • kitty1981kitty1981 Posts: 5Member Listener
    Since I haven't been able to succeed in permanent employment I have been volunteering since Feb 2016 on a part time basis for a charity called inspire in hull they are a none for profit organisation and have a cafe and local projects my last project was working with nursing homes in hull assisting staff and elderly to keep them entertained with fun and games and companionship.
  • SnowbirdSnowbird Posts: 6Member Listener
    Hi @kitty1981

    Well, what can I say!  Despite a rough ride, you seem to have been able to work out a way forward for now without my help at all!  However, I appreciate your acknowledgement of my response and, you know, there are many of us (and I include myself in this) who need to check out they are doing the "right" thing and/or have not left any stone unturned, and this is perfectly OK.

    I wish you luck (yes, I do think this can play a part and while it is true we can lay down the foundations to create our own luck life events can still confound it) and joy in your new path. Once you have created your new career, the next step is to get it down on paper.  There are plenty of people/organisations out there who can help with this if you need it, but get back to me if you get stuck.  (Again, I don't consider myself to be the fount of all knowledge, but I used to teach CV writing, amongst other things.)

    Snowbird



  • kitty1981kitty1981 Posts: 5Member Listener
    All i want is to get back to work full time but this is where I'm struggling  at the moment. After being refused and hit by a bad reference from my last manager from the council I opted to use other departments as a personal reference instead until recently volunteering. I have a cv up to date and I tried in the last 2 months to stay as a ward clerk with the nhs but this was unsuccessful due to travel implications causing me to have seizures due to stress and relying on taxis which caused me to turn in late which is not good at all I hate to have bad timekeeping as it can be detrimental. Remploy are helping me now that I have returned from a break so I'll be doing this 3 times a week to get "back on the waggon" my aim is to work is customer service and admin/reception and delegation roles. Other than this I love talking to people and always wanted to work with nhs media and tv radio etc due to my health to raise awareness due to my birth, long term health condition and work experiences and raise awareness that there is ability in the word disability and that everyone should not have to fight for our right to work but if you are disabled we do and its not fair, more needs to be done via government to put this into place please see my Facebook page for more  Leigh Ablett x
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