Equality Wins

Sex discrimination at job interview
Karen Rylance, an Amicus member with two daughters applied to Brookson Limited for a job as an Executive Assistant. The interview began with a question from the HR manager asking her whether she was married, whether she had children and then asking further questions about the names, ages and gender of her children. When the candidates were short listed for a second interview, Brookson did not short list any candidate that had young children and the successful candidate was a divorced woman with children of an age described as “being able to look after themselves”.
Amicus supported Karen in her sex discrimination claim. The Employment Tribunal found Brookson had a practice of not employing people with caring responsibilities and that the practice put women at a disadvantage compared with men. Brookson was criticised by the tribunal for their preconception that people with young children could not commit to the job. The tribunal also found that the questions asked of Karen were irrelevant to the job and therefore, unlawful. The case was finally settled prior to a remedies hearing.
After the hearing Karen commented “I’m really pleased with the outcome of the tribunal. Amicus and their solicitors, Rowley Ashworth, were very supportive throughout the entire process and did a fantastic job. I hope that my successful case gives people the confidence to take action – unless people stand up for themselves when they are discriminated against, employers will continue to get away with it and we can’t allow that to happen”.
“Blind as a bat” comment amounts to disability discrimination
An Amicus member brought a claim for disability discrimination against MM Packaging UK Limited after he was referred to as “being blind as a bat” and dismissed in December 2005.
Mr A was employed by the company as a Production Operator from 31 January 2005 until 9 December 2005 . Mr A has been partially sighted since birth and is registered as disabled. On 1 December Mr A’s manager noticed that he had placed a label on the wrong pallet and informed him that he wanted him to have an eye test. Mr A responded that he had an appointment with his specialist in two weeks’ time and a full report could be obtained at that time to which his manager retorted, “I have heard you are as blind as a bat”. He then subsequently told him that he had to attend an optician’s appointment arranged by the company.
Mr A contacted his manager to ask that a meeting be held to discuss his dissatisfaction with the comment and a request to see an optician when he already had a pre-arranged appointment with his own specialist. The following morning Mr A received a letter informing him that his employment had been terminated with immediate effect.
The tribunal concluded that the company had discriminated against Mr A on the grounds of his disability by referring to him as being “blind as a bat” and terminating his employment and awarded Mr A £14,638 in compensation, including £6,500 for injury to feelings.
Equal Pay Victimisation Victory for women
The House of Lords recently ruled in favour of 36 school catering workers who were victimised by St Helens Borough Council after they brought equal pay claims against the local authority. In a damming verdict, the five law lords unanimously backed the women in their claims against the council for sex discrimination and victimisation. Upholding the original £560,000 award for equal pay, the women were awarded additional £350,000 compensation after the Council sent a letter to all catering staff saying that their jobs were at risk if the women pursued the claim.
NHS worker wins job back in landmark case
A 67-year-old NHS employee who was sacked the day before the new age discrimination regulations came into force has won her job back in a landmark victory. Ann Southcott was dismissed from her post as a clerical worker and was told that she would receive the contractual requirement of 11 weeks pay, rather than the 11 months pay she would have been entitled to had she been dismissed a day later under the new legislation. Following a preliminary hearing the hospital agreed to reinstate Mrs Southcott and a group of other workers dismissed in similar circumstances.

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'Fujitsu Whistleblower' hotline. Concerned about unethical or illegal practices? Contact the hotline on 0800 852 7479 or fujitsu.whistleblowers@unitetheunion.org. It is run by Unite the Union and your identity will be kept strictly confidential. Don't let Fujitsu silence whistleblowers.

Unite members working for Fujitsu Services Limited in the Manchester bargaining unit have taken 32 strike days over compulsory redundancies, victimisation of reps and breaches of agreements. This follows 27 previous days of strike action.

Industrial action is currently suspended but the fight continues.

Further information is available here including a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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