Associative Disability Discrimination – Operations Manager Unfairly Dismissed
An employment tribunal has found an employer has committed associative disability discrimination against one of their employees. The employee indicated that he would be spending more time caring for his daughter, who has cystic fibrosis, in order to help care for her and was dismissed shortly after.
In the case of Truman vs Bibby Distribution Ltd Mr Truman had a good working history with positive appraisals. On the day before his 1 year employment anniversary he received news that he was being dismissed from his role of Operations Manager, the main reasons given were due to poor performance,” his primary customer was dissatisfied with him” and “his heart wasn’t in the business”.
Mr Truman had indicated to his line manager about a month prior to being dismissed that his caring responsibilities were due to increase. His wife, who was his daughter’s primary carer, was due to start up a new business and needed assistance with certain caring responsibilities related to their daughter’s cystic fibrosis.
After taking the matter to court Mr Truman’s claim was found to be successful. The tribunal deemed that Mr Truman had been unfairly dismissed due to associative disability discrimination (the claim is not because of the victim’s protected characteristic, but on the characteristic of someone else).
It was found that the employer had not given a satisfactory reason for the dismissal. Mr Truman was dismissed without any prior warning as all his performance appraisals had been positive, he often worked additional hours, there was no evidence that his primary customer was dissatisfied, and no performance improvement steps were provided.
The timing of Mr Truman’s dismissal also meant that he was not entitled to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave which employees would normally be able to claim on the anniversary of their first years’ service.
The tribunal concluded that an employee without a disabled child would not be treated in the same way therefore the employee in this case was directly discriminated against. Compensation was to be finalised at a later hearing.
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