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Possible disability discrimination at work

(18 Posts)
Kladdkaka Sun 11-Sep-11 19:55:15

I'll probably regret posting this here but I do need to know where I should advise my daughter to let this one go or whether I am being reasonable in telling her to pursue it as far as she can.

My daughter is 18 and autistic. She is still at school but recently managed to find herself a job at the local Pizzaria at the weekends. She had to go for a trial during which she worked 3 evenings. She was then told that she'd got the job and has since worked 4 weekends.

It's been a complete nightmare and she came home today after just half an hour in tears because it's all too much. Her boss told her to go and see him tomorrow evening for a talk, which I take as meaning to be sacked. The problems are:

•she doesn't know what she's supposed to be doing, she has no whatdycallitthingy which sets out her role and what is expected. She gets told she has to do x and then the next day gets told off for doing x as that's not her job so doesn't know whether she is coming or going
•she's had no training on how to do things but gets in trouble if she doesn't get it right. Right also changes from day to day
•she has had no pay slips. She asked about tax and stuff and was told that he would sort it all out. I have a sneaky suspicion that ain't happening
•her boss keeps making jokes at her expense which upset her because being autistic, she doesn't realise he's joking. She's told him this but he keeps doing it.
•her boss also keeps commenting on her weight, asking her what she weighs, lecturing her on healthy eating, asking her what she's had to eat. He's even given her a demonstration on how to drink as glass of water as he didn't think she was doing it right. WTF?

Today he started as soon as she walked in, asking her what she'd been doing and why hadn't she been more active and what had she eaten. She feels very vulnerable and doesn't feel in a position to tell him to mind his own business. She told him again that she has autism and find some things difficult. He looked quite shocked, even though she had already told him, and told her that she should have told him this right at the start. She was upset by this as she felt it was said in such a way that he was saying he would not have employed her had he known. Despite this she got to work. Then came the final straw. He started telling her that there is no such thing as autism, it's all in her head and that she needs to pull herself together and get over it. At which point she was distraught and told him she had to go home.

I'm in Sweden, so I know that nobody here can give specific advice but do you think I'm being unreasonable in encouraging her to fight this?

WilsonFrickett Sun 11-Sep-11 20:02:11

He sounds like a complete and utter p***k and a bully. I wonder if the shocked look was because he realised his bullying behaviour (easily dismissed as it's her word against his) has disablist overtones, and I presume disability discrimination is illegal in Sweden?

What would be the best outcome for DD? Does she actually want to keep working there? I know we teach our kids to stand up for themselves but honestly, he sounds like poison. If she does want to keep working there, then yes, encourage her to fight. If not, then I think you go in with her tomorrow, demand her wages and chalk it up to experience. Not every job is worth having.

sad for her though.

eurochick Sun 11-Sep-11 20:11:43

He's a twat but he sounds like a twat to everyone so it doesn't sound like he is singling her out. And I can't comment on whether it might constitute discrimination under Swedish law. But I think the better thing for your daughter might just be to move on and find something else with a better boss. Fighting it sounds very stressful for a part time waitressing job. So based on what you have posted here, my advice would be for her to just move on to something else.

Cereal Sun 11-Sep-11 20:15:47

This sounds outrageous. Definitely bullying, and possibly disability discrimination, although he probably bullies people who do not have autism too. I would not want to work there any more. I suggest that your DD could resign, but also write to the Pizzeria head office (is there one?) to complain. Or complain to some other group (sorry but I'm not sure what this would be in Sweden).

Claw3 Sun 11-Sep-11 20:20:54

"The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against or harass a disabled person. Also an employer must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people"

This would apply in Sweden too.

TidyDancer Sun 11-Sep-11 20:34:01

OMG, treatment like that would have me running for the hills and I'm NT, your poor DD, having to deal with that! She must be devastated at how she is being treated there.

I don't know anything about Swedish law, so I won't pretend otherwise, but I can't imagine any civilised country would find that acceptable.

Tell her to fight. And know that she's got an awful lot of support from us.

Squishylicious Sun 11-Sep-11 22:01:31

No advice but agree he is a twat. Your poor DD.

slavetofilofax Sun 11-Sep-11 22:14:10

How does she feel about fighting it, and what exactly would 'fighting it' enatail?

If there is someone above this twat that she could easily go to and expect a reasonable outcome, I think you should encourage her to fight it if she feels able to.

If fighting it means she has to stick around to be treathed like crap in the hope of educating someone who is ovbiously completely ignorant, and unlikely to change, then I would get her out of there and put it down to experience.

Kladdkaka Sun 11-Sep-11 22:25:13

Sorry I got chucked off the computer by husband right after posting. He seems to think his work is slightly more important than MNet. hmm

Anyways, daughter really wants to keep the job, she just wants clear instructions about what she is supposed to do and for him to give over with the offensive comments. I'm not sure she'll be able to get that. It's a small family business so he really is the boss.

My husband has been emailing a few of his colleagues and so has a few contact numbers for her to try tomorrow to see if she can get some support. Apparantly the kommune (local authority) have a person responsible for ensuring disabled people get all the support they need to function in society and the local employment office have an autism specialist.

If they can't help one colleagues husband is a human rights lawyer and another is a union shop steward. Unions here are still kickass, employers can't fart without their say so. My husband spoke to him earlier, he said the hotel and restaurant union will probably support her, despite not being a member, because of her age/disability/immigrant/new employee/non unionised workplace status. He's given her their number.

So I guess we wait till tomorrow.

Kladdkaka Sun 11-Sep-11 22:31:05

I forgot to say, she really wants to keep the job because she knows how hard it is to find work here. It's not like the UK. Most people get their jobs through who they know, not what they know. So for an immigrant with no family connections, it's an uphill struggle. She has been trying to find work for 2 years before getting this one.

Andrewofgg Mon 12-Sep-11 12:57:03

It really is no use quoting UK legislation and then saying airily that this would apply in Ruritania too. If Ruritania is in the EU then to the extent that it reflects EU law, yes in principle it would, but don't be too certain that it will be applied in the same way as here; local law may in practice be more or less vigorous than that in the UK. If Ruritania is not in the EU then it may not apply at all.

The very kickassity (I like that word) of Swedish unions suggests that the man may have stayed within the law, although of course there are pricks of both genders in management (and unions) in every country and no law can prevent that.

Kladdkaka All the best to you and DD. Interesting to hear that in social democrat egalitarian Sweden people get their jobs through who they know, not what they know. Perhaps that is because it is a small country (in population) - I have heard the same about Norway.

Kladdkaka Mon 12-Sep-11 13:15:42

Update, the union have said they don't normally act for people until they've been a member for 3 months. Given that she is only 18 and still at school they will waive this for her. They've advised her to take a friend along to the meeting and to listen very carefully to what is said. If there is still a problem afterwards, they'll take it up on her behalf. From what I can gather the law is pretty much the same as the UK, the way they go about enforcing it different.

So she's joined up today. Which in itself is a good thing. I discovered from doing this that there are no state unemployment benefits here shock. If you lose your job you receive unemployment payments from your union's insurance scheme.

Andrew I think the who you know thing is because with proper jobs, once someone is taken on it's almost impossible to get rid of them if they no good. It's still a jobs for life culture here. So they are scared of taking on a stranger.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 13:36:08

He is breaking the Equality Act, which spans across the EU.

I cannot give give you legal advice, which i would be able to do if you had been in the UK.

Tbh if you google how it works in your country there should be good advice. I far as i am aware he has to make reasonable adjustments to accomodate her condition.

She will have to go through what she needs and he has to do this. You need to start writing down what is happening, how she is trying to get help from him and what is answer is.

This is EU law and it is not for individuals to decide against it. This also goes beyond 'the Union', he has to facilitate her needs.

You are within your rights to support her in this, if it is part of her condition as to why she needs support.

Andrewofgg Mon 12-Sep-11 13:38:06

Kladdkaka That's interesting. The same effect applies here: only less so because you have a window of opportunity provided nobody can suggest that the dismissal was not only unfair but also discriminatory on any of the usual grounds.

Andrewofgg Mon 12-Sep-11 13:41:00

Birds The Equality Act does not span across the EU. It is Britain's implementation of EU law which is (or should be) implemented in every Member State but in different ways, and enforcement is not as good in some countries as in others.

Birdsgottafly Mon 12-Sep-11 14:12:21

Andrew- i meant the general theme spans across, that why i said for the OP to google how it works in her country. I quoted EU law in my last bit.

Claw3 Mon 12-Sep-11 14:13:28

Sorry i should have been clearer, i didnt mean the act itself, just "the unlawful for an employer to discriminate against or harass a disabled person. Also an employer must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people"

Sweden have something similar.

dreamingbohemian Mon 12-Sep-11 14:56:26

I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but do you live near a McDonalds, and has your daughter applied there? I only ask because where I used to live, the local McD outlets used to be very good at hiring and supporting disabled people, and I was told it was because they had very good company guidance on this. Maybe that was an abberation though.

I've worked in restaurants for years and unfortunately there are a lot of people like this in the business. I would personally not encourage my daughter to stay in this environment, because in a family-run business she will not have much protection, whatever the union says. He sounds really nasty, I'm not sure any job is worth it.

I'm so sorry she is having to deal with this, I hope she is able to find something better.

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