NHS Nurse faced Workplace Discrimination

NHS Nurse faced Workplace Discrimination

A Yorkshire based nurse took her local ambulance service, who are part of the NHS Trust, to an Employment Tribunal after she received a conditional offer of employment which was withdrawn once they received her reference and an Occupational Therapy report.

The nurse, who suffered with ill health, had to take an 18 month period of sick leave from her previous job. After returning to work, she made the decision to seek new employment.  After a successful application processes and being advised that she had got the job, the offer was then withdrawn following receipt of her reference which advised of her health issues and subsequent time off. 

The nurse felt that she had been discriminated against because her ill health constituted a disability. The Equality Act 2010 sets out that a person may be considered disabled for the purposes of employment law if they have a physical or mental impairment which substantially and adversely affects their day to day activities.  Generally speaking the requirement is also to have such a condition for longer than one year or be deemed to continue to suffer for one year.  The tribunal concluded that the nurse was a disabled person and that her absences were matters arising in consequence of her disability.  They further established that it was upon discovery of her previous absences that prevented the new employers from taking her on and that as result this amounted to discrimination.  The tribunal cited that they were surprised at how quickly the new employers withdrew the job offer upon receiving her reference and the OT report.

Lawson-West Employment Lawyer Carrie-Ann Randall comments: “It is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee unfavourably because they have a disability or for any reason in consequence of their disability. It is disappointing that this situation happens despite the large volume of assistance available to employers to ensure they get things right.  Employers should not assume disabled people are unemployable or a problem and should seek guidance from many of the resources available to learn how they can make things work.  Of course, employers are able to defend such claims providing that they are able to justify that any treatment that is considered unfavourable was carried out in a way that is proportionate to achieving a legitimate aim. The key is to seek specialist help.

Please contact myself or a member of my team on 01858 445 480 or 0116 212 1000 as we are able to provide you with this advice and support."

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