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Is this disability discrimination?

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  • Is this disability discrimination?

    Last autumn I had a medical diagnosis that I have Asperger’s.I am very high functioning, I have a very high IQ so I’ve always been able towork and pass as ‘normal’ as I always thought I was. In December, I asked tosee my occupational health nurse to discuss the diagnosis and if I shoulddisclose this to HR.
    However, HR would not let me make an appointment with thenurse until I told them or my manager why I wanted the appointment. I was verydistressed but eventually I had a meeting with my manager and discussed it withher. I opened up about my condition.
    She said it is important that my employer knows about mycondition because they might be able to make my work better, easier for me.
    So I said it was alright for my manager to discuss thesituation with HR. She asked me to write a list of jobs and skills I like andones I find more difficult (Like meeting new people, being in crowded areas etc.The biggest problem I have is socially).
    It was suggested that I might find working in anotherdepartment better for me. (I am a scientist. I have worked as a chemist foralmost 30 years and been with my present employer for 6 and a half years. Ihave always been given good appraisal reviews. I have an undergraduate andpostgraduate degree in chemistry and postgraduate degree in history.)
    I eventually was offered a ‘mini-secondment’ in theanalytical chemistry team, which I was told was unofficial to last from May to endAugust of this year. The week before I began working in the analytical team Ihad a meeting with my manager and the team leader to discuss trainingarrangements. During the meeting, we discussed my medical condition and thethings I might find more difficult. I was assured that this would not be aproblem.
    So, I began the seconding and on the first day I was putinto a situation I was uncomfortable with, I was asked to accompany the teamleader to a meeting with reps about buying new equipment.
    I was not given anytraining plan during my time. Even though, I had asked for so there was nodirection about what I was expected to do. The team leader left me without anyguidance or work for most of the days. When I asked, him he said he was toobusy to train me. The other team members ignored me when I asked for them totrain me. They all spoke to me slowly like I suddenly had learningdifficulties.
    It was then that I began to speak to one of the other teammembers and she told me that the team leader had called a meeting the daybefore I was due to start working with them and told them I was autistic andits’ classed as a disability so they have to help me out by giving me a job. Shesaid they felt resentful that the leader was ‘doing a favour for a mate’ bygiving me a job.
    I was very upset and when I confronted the team leader hedidn’t deny that he told them, He said I had given my permission for him totell them. Which wasn’t true. He was very aggressive towards me.
    The training became non-existent from then on. I was accusedof being rude when I disagreed with the team leading in a meeting. I tried toask again why I wasn’t being trained and the team leader said ‘he’d tried trainme’ and implied I had learning difficulties. I went back to my manager andexplained what had happened that I wasn’t doing any work in the departmentbecause I wasn’t being taught anything. I was sent to HR to discuss the problemwith them. I told them everything that was happening.
    I was then told that my current job that I had now returnedto was going to be made redundant and I would have to be found another positionin the company. My colleague who also does the same job is being kept on. Sheis younger than me, has no experience and has only worked in the team for 2years.
    HR have told me that there is nothing ‘suitable’ anywhereelse in the company. My manager said I have only 3 months’ work left (That wasin August). I have been told to get my CV up to date and ‘probably’ look forwork outside.
    Sorry for the long explanation but I thought it necessary toexplain everything
    I guess my question is – is this disability discrimination?If so is there anything I can do about it. Even though I am now determined toleave the company before I am made redundant.
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Re: Is this disability discrimination?

    tagging [MENTION=51026]Ula[/MENTION] [MENTION=26290]mariefab[/MENTION] xx
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    • #3
      Re: Is this disability discrimination?

      I am not a qualified lawyer - I just need to make that clear but from what you have said in your post I would say that your secondment has not been handled in the best way and I do have to wonder whether the same situation would have occurred to someone seconded into that department/team who did not have a disability.

      What also concerns me is what you say towards the end of your post about the potential redundancy situation:

      "I was then told that my current job that I had now returned to was going to be made redundant and I would have to be found another position in the company. My colleague who also does the same job is being kept on. She is younger than me, has no experience and has only worked in the team for 2years."

      If there are two of you doing the same job and a position it being made redundant then your employer needs to undertake a redundancy process which means both of you being put into a "pool" of at risk job-holders and then a fair selection process with pre-determined criteria needs to be followed. From what you have said this has not happened and should have done bearing in mind they knew your secondment was only going to take place until the end of Aug and that you would be returning to your original role.
      I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
      If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.

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