world : Sales rep settles disability discrimination case

world : Sales rep settles disability discrimination case
world : Sales rep settles disability discrimination case

Wednesday 10 July 2024 08:49 AM

Nafeza 2 world - A sales representative has settled his disability discrimination case against his former employer for £20,000.

Mark Graham worked for builders merchant Haldane Fisher for 28 years and said he was "disappointed" that his career "ended as it did".

The case, supported by the Equality Commission, was settled through mediation and without any admission of liability by Haldane Fisher.

Mr Graham was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017.

He was offered the position of area merchant sales representative for the Republic of Ireland in October 2019.

In May 2021, following the Covid-19 pandemic, Haldane Fisher said it wanted all external sales representatives to be back out on the road.

Due to ongoing restrictions in the Republic of Ireland and his vulnerable person status, Mr Graham had planned to resume in-person meetings at the end of that month.

Over the following months, Haldane Fisher held two sets of meetings with him, which included an investigation into not being out on the road, but no disciplinary action was taken.

This left Mr Graham feeling distressed and he then took a period of sick leave.

He later returned to work and was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, which affected his hearing.

Mr Graham said he asked for a reasonable adjustment to his working pattern and required two days working from home.

He said this was declined and in 2022 he had no option but to resign due to the impact the amount of time spent on the road was having on his health.

In a statement, Haldane Fisher said it considered itself to be an equal opportunities employer and denied the allegations made in the case.

Mr Graham said he loved his job at the company and had great experiences in the role.

“I needed adjustments for the role," he said.

"I raised these concerns with the company on several occasions.

“I feel I was seen as a disabled person who didn't get the support that I needed to get.

"All I wanted was adjustment to allow me to do my job - and continue to do the job that I did after my illness.”

Eoin O'Neill, director of legal services for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said it was important employers made adjustments in the workplace.

“Last year we as a commission found that 48% of all enquiries coming to our discrimination advice line related to disability discrimination and a very large percentage of those related to the lack of reasonable adjustments in the workforce," he said.

“It's a very major problem in Northern Ireland. Disabled people have skills and attributes that are very valuable to people in our economy and if they lose out on jobs because of the lack of reasonable adjustment, that obviously impacts on all.”

As part of the settlement, Haldane Fisher reaffirmed its strong commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in employment and agreed to work with the Equality Commission to review its policies and procedures to ensure they conformed to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The case was settled without admission of liability in November 2023.

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