Hi all.A year or so ago I wrote to the list seeking advice re a possible disability discrimination case that I was thinking of taking against my local authority. As I received loads of advice and support I thought that I'd write and let you know the outcome.
I was successful in an application for the post of social worker with my local authority in January, 2005. I contacted Access to Work and the RNIB and was assessed as requiring I.T equipment and 24 hours per week personal assistance.
My original start date was cancelled, and I was given a new start date. To cut a long story short, by May of that year I was not yet in post, despite being given several start dates, which ended up being cancelled at the last minute.
My employers were determined to have all my adjustments in place and up and running before they would allow me to commence my work. I was not paid for this period despite attending for many meetings, including undertaking a full day training course in Glasgow, on Care First.
In May, after my hopes of starting were dashed again, I walked out of yet another meeting and contacted a Lawyer.
I shortly received a letter from my employer advising that they were sorry to hear that I no longer wished to work for them and wished me all the best for the future.
I wrote a grievance but was told that as I was not in post, then I was not an employee and therefore, no action was going to be taken concerning my complaint.
The Disability Writes Commission stepped in and supported me throughout a difficult and protracted case.
The outcome was that the Employment Tribunal in Glasgow and the Appeals Tribunal in Edinburgh found that I had been discriminated against in four counts and that I was constructively dismissed.
I was due to attend a Remedies Hearing to decide the amount of compensation that I would receive, but before this occurred, my local authority, perhaps fearing a massive bill, offered me £57,000. I accepted this of course.
So this is a good outcome for me, however, I still feel robbed and abused. The cash is very nice but only represents two years salary. The really nice thing is that any day now my local authority are going to be reading just how badly they treated me in the press, so perhaps they may review their equal opportunities policy and actually start thinking seriously about social inclusion.
This has been a difficult journey for me but I feel that as disabled people, we must fight back when we know we are being treated differently or unfairly, simply because we happen to be blind.
So I'd say to anyone who feels that they are or have been treated unfairly, to contact a lawyer and get their advice. Many legal offices do not charge for the first meeting and they can tell you if your gut feelings are right and they can also contact bodies such as the Disability Writes Commission for funding of your case.
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