Former Armagh store worker settles disability discrimination claim for £25k

Former Armagh store worker settles disability discrimination claim for £25k

Mary Kitson

A discrimination disability case brought by a man against his former employer Home Bargains with support from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has been settled for £25,000 with no admission of liability.

Ryan Walker, who lives with cerebral palsy, was employed in the chain’s Armagh store in a sales assistant role from July 2017 but resigned three years later following issues in maintaining reasonable adjustments.

Mr Walker needs to be in an active role where he can keep moving as this helps him to manage his disability. He says that he informed Home Bargains of his disability and his needs during his job interview.

He said he enjoyed his job for three years, with duties including warehouse and stock filling, but alleged that things changed when a new supervisor joined in late 2020 and began to regularly ask him to cover checkouts and work extra hours.

While he was happy to help on checkouts, Mr Walker said he could only do so for short periods of time as he needed to move around due to his disability. He alleged that, when he tried to explain to his employer his needs as a disabled person, he was told not to “play the disability card”.

He then  contacted the company’s wellbeing team and lodged a formal complaint, after which he said it was agreed with his employer, as a reasonable adjustment, that he would only work in the warehouse and fill shelves. But despite this agreement, he alleges he was again ordered to work on the checkouts.

Mr Walker wrote to his employer to express his frustration that they had not dealt with issues regarding his reasonable adjustments appropriately. In the end he felt he had no option but to resign.

Mary Kitson, senior legal officer in the Equality Commission, said: “There is simply no place for disability discrimination in workplaces in Northern Ireland. Ryan was keen to work and valued his employment. He proactively advised his employer about his disability from the outset and reasonable adjustments were agreed.

“The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 imposes a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities.

“Employers must operate within our equality laws. They must ensure that they treat all employees who are disabled with dignity and respect in the workplace. No employee with a disability should feel that their needs are not understood or valued by their employer.”

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