Alex is suffering from right hip early osteoarthritis. He is of the opinion that his physical condition amounts to a disability within the connotation of the Equality Act 2010.
Alex is presently working as a Personal Trainer at “OZO” gymnasium (his “Employer”) and has been with them for the past 6 years. Alex was diagnosed with hip early osteoarthritis 3 years ago. Alex feels that he has been treated fairly by his Employer due to his disability divergent to the Equality Act 2010.
Alex has in several occasions made it clear to his Employer that he is suffering from a disability for which he requires few changes to his working practices. Alex has requested the following changes:
1. Reduction in his working hours. He wants to work for 30 hours per week.
2. Short breaks from his shifts so that he can take some rest to reduce the hip pain.
3. Changes in the shift timings (personal trainers).
Although Alex’s Employer knew of his disability for over 3 years now, it has indefatigably botched to make any adjustments to accommodate his disability. His manager is of the opinion that Alex’s disability does not create a positive image for its company and also on other personal trainers
The subjecting of Alex to disability discrimination has meant that Alex has been prevented from working the reduced hours he requested and this has had a detrimental effect on his current health which has exacerbated the effects of his disability. Three months ago Alex raised a formal grievance as he felt that he had no alternative but to do so in circumstances where all of his previous concerns raised verbally had been ignored. Alex’s Employer did not listen to his grievance and they denied all liability for discrimination. But his employer agreed to reduce his working hours to only 25 hours per week and no adjustment and flexibility was allowed to him to work in excess of that should the need arise. His employer also wanted him to work on all the days of the week when there is less gathering at the gym. His employer prevented him from working on the busiest days and busy time since they felt that it would affect the image of the gym. He has also been allowed to take a 10 minute break when he feels in pain provided that his boss authorizes such breaks in order to ensure that his boss is aware of his whereabouts.
Alex’s Employer wishes to change Alex’s terms and conditions of employment to reflect his new working hours (25 hours per week) and days of work to include working every weekend. Alex was told by his employer that if he does not agree to their terms then he will have to face legal proceedings.
Alex contemplates that his Employer has botched to give any good reason for not agreeing to make the accommodations he requested and that the recommended accommodation that it is willing to make are unreasonable in the situation he is in. Alex is aware that his employer is hiring and new staffs are being recruited or being asked to cover during peak hours and they have been asked to be personal trainers for their clients instead of allowing Alex to be personal trainer.
Alex went to see an advocate for legal advice to see if he had any impending employment claims against his Employer. He was advised by the advocate that the Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees who have a disability. In addition, that employee with a disability should not be treated less favorably because of a disability. In Alex’s case his Employer did not provide any reasons as to why it could not allow Alex to work 30 hours per week. Alex’s Employer had not sought a medical opinion. In all the circumstances, therefore, Alex’s Employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments. Adding up to this, Alex’s employer subjected him to less favorable treatment by insisting he works at the quietest times every weekend (when his colleagues who did not suffer from a disability did not have to work every weekend) and by insisting that he seeks his boss’s approval before taking breaks.
In addition to a claim for disability discrimination, Alex could also claim victimization under the Equality Act 2010 because he was subjected to further less favorable treatment because he made a complaint about disability discrimination, as his Employer threatened that he will face legal proceedings if he does not accept the proposed changes to his terms and conditions of employment.
Alex was advised that if he were to pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal for disability discrimination he would be entitled to compensation for his injury to feelings, his future loss of income (if he were to resign from the current job) and also the personal injury he had suffered due to his condition becoming worse as a result of his Employer’s failure to accommodate his disability. It was also explained to Alex that the Employment Tribunal would make a recommendation about reasonable adjustments for his continued employment.
While interacting with his advocate Alex was worried about the costs involved in the legal proceedings. However, when his advocate discussed the matter with him it became clear that he had Legal Expenses Insurance which would fund legal assistance. Alex’s advocate helped him to apply to his insurers for funding and then issued an Employment Tribunal claim on his behalf.