Supermarket worker wins health case

Sainsburys health case occupational health news

Wrongful dismissal on health grounds

A supermarket worker has won a case for wrongful dismissal because the employer breached their duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Mr R Rasavallavan, a store leader in training, was employed by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, who were aware that Mr Rasavallavan had Diabetes. The disease is a disability as defined within the Equality Act 2010, which places a duty on employers to ensure reasonable steps are taken to accommodate the disability.

The employers’ duty

On occasion, Sainsbury’s scheduled Mr Rasavallavan to work shifts, sometimes with less colleagues than planned. The Tribunal decided that practice had placed Mr Rasavallavan at a substantial disadvantage, in comparison to others who did not have a disability. This is because, in the absence of a full cohort on the shifts, he was asked to remain standing for long periods and to do some heavy lifting.

An Employment Tribunal decided that because of his disability it would have been reasonable for Sainsbury’s to adjust its rota patterns, shifts or to consider an alternative role for Mr Rasavallavan.

The health problems

The Tribunal noted that Mr Rasavallavan stated that the practices had caused foot problems and increased his stress, which in turn had further impacted his diabetes.

The Tribunal decided that Mr Rasavallavan was wrongfully dismissed and awarded four weeks’ notice and holiday pay immediately. A hearing to decide the remedy for breaching the Equality Act is scheduled for July this year. Sainsbury’s may yet lodge an appeal to the decision.

Our advice

Although we cannot provide legal advice, it is apparent from the case that adjusting a rota is clearly seen as a reasonable accommodation to have been considered by an employer.

The case demonstrates the importance of acting fairly to support employees and follows other cases where employers have faced huge fines for falling foul of legislation.

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