The Importance of Considering Reasonable Adjustments

The Importance of Considering Reasonable Adjustments


  • Date: Wednesday 28th November 2018
  • PDF: Download

Da Costa v Summer Garden Salads

The case:

Celia Luisa Pereira da Costa has had glaucoma and chronic uveitis since the age of 16.

She had worked for Summer Garden Salads as a production operative preparing various vegetables since 2012. Da Costa disclosed that she suffered from glaucoma at interview in 2011 for her initial role working as a janitor for the firm.

The court heard she was considered a reliable and sound worker about whom no issues had been raised regarding her performance.

In 2017 the company stopped using dried and frozen onions and began to use fresh onions.

Da Costa was issued with goggles but had to put these over her glasses, which then steamed up.

She said: “I had no problem handling and cooking onions, but, when I was asked to help with peeling or chopping them, it caused me a lot of pain and discomfort in my eyes. I had to attend the eye clinic (…) and was off work.”

Her GP sent a letter to her employer confirming she could return to work but requesting that she be excused from peeling duties. After several meetings, however, the company gave Da Costa a letter confirming its decision to terminate her employment.

Considerations:

Da Costa claimed that she could carry out her other duties without any difficulty and lost the job because her employer would not make any adjustments to allow her to continue in the role.

The ruling:

The industrial tribunal ruled that the company had unlawfully discriminated against Da Costa by failing to make reasonable adjustments.

Summer Garden Salads had failed to complete the statutory dismissal procedures and so the dismissal was automatically unfair.

Da Costa was awarded almost £12,000 by the tribunal.

Learnings:

Making small adjustments can keep employees with disabilities in work, which has a positive impact not only on the individual but also the employer’s reputation.

Make sure that any requested adjustments are

  • Discussed objectively with the individual concerned
  • Considered seriously
  • Responded to in line with your policy

Source – Manuela Grossmann, SSG


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