Failure to make adjustments leads to £50k settlement

Crawfordsburn Country Park

Failure to make adjustments results in £50k settlement

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) in Northern Ireland has settled a disability discrimination case for £50,000, without an admission of liability.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission supported a worker with impaired hearing to bring the claim, following an allegedly flawed recruitment process.

The worker, Mr. Christopher Morrow, worked as a Park Ranger at Crawfordsburn Country Park, employed via an agency. He had moderate to severe hearing loss and wore hearing aids in both ears. He relied on reading facial expressions and body language to communicate effectively.

After applying for a permanent role at the Park, he indicated he had a disability on the application form. He asked if he could have the interview questions in writing during the interview. Mr Morrow also emailed the HR department to ensure the panel was aware of his disability. The request for the questions to be provided in writing was refused.

Mr Morrow was interviewed for the role, although the panel members were seated behind a screen some fifteen feet away, hindering his communication. The panel members did not ask if he needed any adjustments.

Mr Morrow was not successful in his application and feedback afterwards suggested he had “asked for multiple repetitions of questions, which meant the meeting ran over time”.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland emphasised that the Disability Discrimination Act (Northern Ireland does not fall within the Equality Act 2010) requires employers to introduce reasonable adjustments to recruitment and selection process for applicants with disabilities.

Whilst what is reasonable can be different in every case, the law says employers must take steps to remove physical or procedural barriers which disable persons may face when seeking work.

The Labour Relations Agency operates in a similar way to ACAS in Northern Ireland and has lots of freely available advice for employers.

The ACAS website has a really useful guide to steps employers in England, Wales and Scotland should consider during the recruitment process.


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