A blind IT worker has won a discrimination case against a multinational advertising agency that gave her “nothing to do” for two years.
Sue Williams was a worldwide IT developer with the J Walter Thompson Group (JWT), but the firm was “ill-prepared for her arrival”, and gave her no suitable work throughout her employment, it was said.
The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that Williams had been discriminated against and constructively dismissed.
She won the right to substantial compensation under the Disability Discrimination Act, and the amount will be calculated at a later hearing.
Lord Justice Mummery said that there was “no escaping the fact that nothing much happened”, with Williams denied adequate software and appropriate work.
None of the tasks she was allocated were challenging for a person of her intellect and industry, and she was effectively “given nothing to do for two years”.
The judge said that the company had good intentions, but offered no training on disability discrimination.
An employment tribunal had ruled that she had been the victim of unlawful discrimination, but this was overturned in November 2003 by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
The total cost of the case to JWT could run to six figures. In its defence, JWT said that it was inhibited by unforeseen software difficulties and the high cost of training and equipping her.