bowlingbun wrote: ↑
Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:37 am
Jenny is right in saying the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. Google "Constructive Dismissal Coleman Case" for details.
This is more a case of harassment, not discrimination.
Let me try to make sense about this. The Equality Act 2010 (brought in after the Coleman case) consolidated a lot of earlier legislation. (I used to teach the earlier legislation). In the UK, there is
- harassment, and
as different concepts within Equality law. Just to make things more complicated, 'discrimination' is sub-divided into direct
(in your face 'you can't have/do that because you're disabled/too old/female' etc etc etc and indirect
'here's a new workplace rule that applies to everyone and if a one-legged black lesbian can't comply with it, tough'. In other words - the employer brings in a rule that is applied to everyone but in practice makes life difficult for some.
In the Coleman case, Sharon Coleman brought the case on dual grounds:
- harassment, and
- being denied flexible working
The harassment arose because she had been accused of things falsely and insulted because she asked for time off to look after her disabled son. It was the insults and the accusations that gave her something to sue about. If her employer had turned down her request for flexible working without any insults or accusations, she would only have been able to challenge the reason given for turning it down. If the court found the employer's reason reasonable, she would have lost the case. Taking the case for harassment as well as challenging the denial of flexible working made her case stronger and probably won it. The law of flexible working gives employers the right to deny it if their reason is 'justifiable in law. That can only be proved by taking the employer to a tribunal.
However, it's a long slog. Coleman had to go to an Employment tribunal, then an Employment Appeals Tribunal (equivalent to the High Court), then the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Then back to the Tribunal. I'm guessing all that took around 5 years. These cases are gruelling. Just attending an Employment Tribunal can be gruelling for most people - I know, I've played the legal game for clients. I also persuaded a government department to take a case to law that took 7 years to go up to the ECJ and back to the UK court. Most people don't have either the funds or the energy for such a course of action.
The best thing is to get a trade union or the Equality Commission to take a case as a 'test case', as they do most of the work and pay the legal fees.