Mechanic secures substantial settlement payment after discrimination at work

Mechanics working on cars in a garage

A mechanic who suffered from a brain injury came to our employment solicitors for help after his employer failed to accommodate his disability.

Our client – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was a loyal and hard working employee at the garage for over 30 years.

But when the garage was bought over, the new bosses allegedly “made his life a misery” by dragging him to endless meetings – for eight years.

“I couldn’t sleep or stop worrying about what was going on.

“I dreaded going into work and by the end I was at breaking point.

“I ended up being signed off with stress.”

After a long period being signed off sick the new bosses terminated our client’s employment.

They took the view he could not carry out certain duties and took longer to complete tasks compared to other staff members and therefore it was no longer appropriate to keep him in employment.

“I didn’t know if I had any fight left in me.

“I had been fighting with them for years but I thought no, they can’t treat people like that.

“I had worked there for such a large part of my life – it was a horrible way for it to end.” 

Unwilling to accept such a decision our client contacted Ross Milvenan, Digby Brown’s Head of Employment Law.

Ross investigated the circumstances of the dismissal and found the employer failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate our client to help him complete tasks – something the employer was legally obligated to consider because his medical condition met the criteria to be a disability.

An employment claim for disability discrimination, unfair dismissal, victimisation and harassment was raised against the organisation at an employment tribunal.

But before a final hearing took place the garage owners agreed to make a substantial settlement agreement payment to settle the case.

Not only did Ross’ efforts remove the need for our vulnerable client to go through an exhaustive tribunal hearing, but he also helped negotiate a settlement above what the Tribunal would have been likely to award had the hearing gone ahead.

“I was very happy with the outcome. I didn’t start this wanting anything other than for the employer to be answerable for how they treated me. 

“Ross was brilliant and would update me straight away on any developments – he removed all the stress from the process – I contacted various law firms but it wasn’t until I got in touch with Digby Brown that I finally felt listened to.”

Speaking after the settlement, Ross said this case highlighted the difficulties that disabled employees face when trying to create a level playing field compared with colleagues who do not require reasonable adjustments to allow them to carry out their duties.   

And for an employer it highlights the risk of failing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate an employee’s disability and in dismissing an employee because of a disability.   

Ross said:

“Being involved before the dismissal took place meant we could identify and raise specific issues with the employer relating to their internal process.

“This is important because it helped us build a claim for disability discrimination.”