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Discrimination based on disability? What to do next

(1 Post)
chaosagain Tue 04-Nov-14 12:42:10

This post is about my mum who had a serious stroke in January this year. She's recovered well and been deemed fit to work by her GP and her employer's occupational health since July, but will need some reasonable adjustments to her work.

On her first day back at work in August, her boss sat her down (within moments of arriving) to let her know that he'd completed her annual report in her absence and found her performance unsatisfactory. He advised her that she had 3 months to 'prove herself' or he would begin capability proceedings. In his annual report he made some factual errors, made inappropriate comments (about her having spilled lunch down her top) and raised issues/incidences he hadn't mentioned prior to the annual report (and her 6 months of sick leave). He had finalised and filed the annual report in her absence.

He finished this meeting by telling her that he didn't think she was fit for work, her 'sick note' (from the employers OH) was lacking in detail and until she could get that right she couldn't be in the office. He drove her home. She'd been back in work for just over an hour by this point. She felt, on the basis of this meeting, that he really didn't want her in work and would do what he could to get rid of her.

He subsequently made comments verbally about the adjustments she'd requested, e.g. "you'll never have a raised loo seat while I'm in charge".

She filed a grievance and, as is good practice, her boss' boss, asked her to come in for an informal meeting. This was a 2 hour meeting in which the boss' boss informed her that her boss' behaviour hadn't been bullying at all, that he'd have a 'long talk' with her boss and they could all move forward. They'd see her back at work soon. She left with the understanding that her grievance had been 'closed' because her boss' behaviour wasn't deemed bullying.

At that point (early Oct) I tried to talk her into pursuing the formal grievance but she didn't feel able. I now understand from her that it's 'still open'.

She's now due to go back to work but her boss keeps moving the start date back, saying he's yet to finalise the adjustments she requires (mainly the raised loo seat and a hand rail on the stairs). He commented to her recently that he wasn't happy about the loo seat as 'X other people work in this office too and it wasn't fair on them'.

She wants to resign because she can't face it at all and has become incredibly anxious about going back when she feels her grievance was dismissed and her boss has made clear he doesn't want her there.

What's the best course of action from here? I've persuaded her to not resign just yet and to let me talk to her HR person (who I spoke to a lot when she first had the stroke). I'm waiting for that HR person to not be in a meeting/ call me back.

Is the issue here clear about disability discrimination or is it moving in the direction of constructive dismissal? Should we pursue the formal grievance and go to Acas if needed? I'd be happy to pay for a couple of hours of initial legal advice as and when it would be most useful but couldn't do more than that.

I think she's now in such a state about going back that I'm not sure I could persuade her to give it a go. I think she'd rather just resign that go through any more with them. She's due back now next week (unless he moves it again). I think the optimum outcome here would be a compromise agreement as I don't think she'll now ever be able to work for this boss again (and apparently alternative positions are not available at present and are unlikely to be in the foreseeable future).

She's has a low-grade admin position in the civil service, in case that helps, so their procedures should be clear.

Sorry for the epic post, it seems to be she's been treated so unfairly I'd like to help her get a better deal out of it..

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