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Employment Tribunal Judgement: Walsall Deaf Centre

Jane Fletcher has won a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, harassment and failure to carry out reasonable adjustments in the workplace.against Walsall Deaf Centre. This includes failure to provide AtW assistant (note: this could be an interpreter), the staff failed to use sign language whilst communicating, difference in pay / duties, complacency towards her epilepsy.

Hopefully this is an important judgment. I've seen deaf organisations behave incredibly arrogantly, get away with too much; to the extent they play games with people's lives and not take staff seriously enough. I hope this forces organisations to review their practices, sit up and take notice.

Source: Birmingham Post

Deaf centre worker wins claim at tribunal Jun 21 2007 By Shahid Naqvi & Rhona Ganguly A woman with severe hearing problems was discriminated against by bosses at a Midlands deaf charity because of her disability, a tribunal heard.

Yesterday, Jayne Fletcher won her claim for constructive dismissal against her former employers at the Walsall Deaf People's Centre (WDPC).

At the hearing in Birmingham, tribunal chairman Paul Swann heard how Ms Fletcher endured a catalogue of incidents at the centre, where she worked as a sign language tutor, before finally resigning in September 2005.

He ruled in favour of the 23-year-old's claims of disability discrimination, constructive unfair dismissal, harassment and failure to carry out reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Ms Fletcher, who is seeking up to £100,000 in compensation, will now have to wait until next month to find out how much she is entitled to.

The tutor, who also suffers from epilepsy, began work at the centre in Lichfield Street, which promotes deaf awareness, in May 2004.

During the hearing, she claimed the centre failed to provide her with an "access to work" assistant, despite being allocated public money to do so.

She said staff at WDPC also failed to use sign language while communicating unless she specifically asked them to, in spite of the organisation having designated British Sign Language (BSL) rooms.

The tribunal heard how she was hired on just over £5 an hour as an administrator and was taken on as a trainee BSL tutor in January 2005, upon which she was often asked to cover for other tutors.

Despite fully-trained tutors getting a salary of £17.50 an hour, she maintained she failed to get any additional pay and said training courses she had been promised never materialised.

In addition, she claimed her line manager became "complacent" towards her epileptic fits and black outs.

"The first occasion, she was very worried. On the second and third occasion she just lost interest," she said. "On the third occasion I tried to get her attention and she just looked at me and looked away again."

Asked by Ms Deacon if WDPC's chief executive Colin Saunders - who was made an MBE for services to education - was aware of her condition, she replied "yes", but claimed he failed to take it seriously.

"I went up and told him I almost had a fit. He just smiled at me and said 'take it easy and then get back to work'."

Concluding the hearing, Mr Swann said WDPC had not used sign language in her presence when they should have done.

"There was a single failure by the respondents to make sure that something was carried out at a regular basis to ensure her safety and security in her workplace so she could carry out her work," he said.

"They failed to provide her with full support. She needed extra training and additional help to carry out her job. We can only concur that this was a result of her disability.

"As far as her epilepsy was concerned, there was a lack of consideration given so far as her work load was concerned.

"We are satisfied there was a failure to provide and carry out reasonable adjustments and they failed to provide adequate support."

Speaking after the tribunal, Ms Fletcher's solicitor Helen Moore, said: "The tribunal found that Jayne had been harassed on the basis that there was a marked failure to use sign language in Jayne's presence whilst at work, despite her repeated requests. Without this support, the environment became hostile."

Comments (3)

Well i can honestly say that Jayne is a bullshit liar =]

I obviously do not have the facts for this situation (none of us do), however a tribunal will have had a case presented it and made a decision based on that information. I do not even know Jayne, and I'm not interested.

However, I have witnessed deaf organisations abuse people to the hilt. And what's more, they frequently get away with it. It happens in 2007.

One of the interesting things from this judgment is AtW person should be used. How many times do deaf organisations encourage AtW people to actually fulfill organisational duties and / or donate interpreting hours for their actual business? I think it happens so frequently that people turn a blind eye to it. I am not suggesting that is what happened here, it just brings an important point who AtW actually is for. Why don't people speak up about it? Do people actually want to please their employer / boss, or is it some unsaid compromise or using the system because interpreters are expensive?

The second point which I found interesting from this judgment is use of BSL in the workplace. Deaf people are sometimes in a situation where they are in a room with hearing people who are not signing, yet have the skills to do so. Discrimination or not? The fact this tribunal considered this as a point I find interesting, and hopefully will ensure organisations actually start to review their practices.

Whoever said Jayne is a liar, clearly has no guts to say who they are, yet happy to slag someone off!! pathetic! i say good on her!!

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