Disability ruling highlights need for policy care

An employment tribunal has found supermarket giant Asda guilty of disability
discrimination, despite managers following processes set down by the company to
deal with employees on long-term sickness absence.

In the case, Asda employee Jack Gillies fell down some stairs, which he
claimed resulted in physical and mental injuries.

The Glasgow employment tribunal held that during various ‘back to work’
meetings no adjustments were made to standard procedures laid down by the

The tribunal also found that the standard letters set out in Asda’s employee
guides were not composed to take into account Gillies’ mental condition.

It found that managers carried out procedures without considering the
distress that the procedures would cause Gillies, due to his mental state.

It ruled that Asda had discriminated against him, as a duty existed under
the Disability Discrimination Act to make reasonable adjustments to the process
to ease Gillies’ distress. Asda was ordered to pay the ex-employee £5,000.

Claire McManus, an employment lawyer with Harper Macleod, who represented
Gillies, said that having extensive guidelines on the treatment of long-term
absentees was not enough, and that managers had to look at individual
circumstances and underlying factors in each case.

A spokesman for Asda said the company thought the ruling was unfair and
would be considering its position.

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