Tribunal orders disabilty rights training for senior managers

Three senior managers at Virgin Cross Country Trains have been ordered by an employment tribunal to attend training about disability rights law.

The Exeter tribunal said that Hugh Dunglinson, employee relations director, Diane Hempsall, head of occupational health and Adrian Bartlett, driver team manager at Virgin’s Plymouth depot, must be trained in the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), and in particular the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Virgin Cross Country had already been found to be in breach of the Act for failing to make reasonable adjustments to enable train driver Martyn Hazelhurst to return to light duties after an operation on his knee.

The tribunal awarded Hazelhurst £41,000 in damages and said it would return with a number of recommendations.

Along with training “within 3 months” for the named senior managers, it also ordered Virgin to pay Hazelhurst his basic salary until he can either return to driving duties, is certified unfit for any duties or starts a suitable new job with Virgin.

Hazelhurst will have to be informed of all non safety-critical vacancies at the Plymouth and Bristol depots, and the suitability of any new post or employment would include the requirement to make adjustments to take into account Hazelhurst’s disability, the tribunal said.

Keith Norman, general secretary of train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “It is a measure of the lack of respect employers have for the law that they need to have their attention drawn to it by a court.

“If working people ignore the law, they find themselves in difficulties,” he said. “If managers ignore it, they find themselves in the boardroom.

“I am pleased at the outcome of the case – but the underlying problem remains. Big business has no respect for the law of the land.”

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