Disability discrimination at work — Scope | Disability forum
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Disability discrimination at work

Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
In my previous job I experienced bullying, harassment, verbal abuse and disability discrimination from my store manager. The large, well known company I worked for is denying all this, even though they know it happened. Which has made getting something done about it very difficult, if not nearly impossible. They have very expensive lawyers, who know the legal system inside out, and know exactly how to get them off the hook. 
I have tried taking them to an employment tribunal, but it seems to be getting nowhere, with no realistic prospect of success unfortunately.
I am representing myself, as I can’t afford a solicitor.
The bullying and discrimination was stressful, and the long tribunal process has been even more stressful.
Causing me to suffer significantly with anxiety and depression.
I am now investigating making a personal injury claim against them, for occupational stress.
I left my job with the company last May, as it was making me ill and I had no other choice.
And my constructive dismissal claim seems to be getting nowhere.
I have been unable to work since then, due to stress, anxiety and depression.
A very good firm of solicitors has said they would represent me in a personal injury/ occupational stress claim, but it would cost 750 pounds. And they wouldn’t work on a no win, no fee basis.
As I have been out of work for a year, I can’t afford this fee.
Does anyone know anywhere that I could potentially get some help with legal fees please?
The whole tribunal process has been extremely frustrating. Disability discrimination and bullying are very serious. 
The company I worked for know they are in the wrong, but they seem determined to cover it up- and it looks like they will probably succeed.
It feels almost impossible to get justice, no matter how hard you try. And everywhere you try to turn for help, nobody can help you.
I don’t know what to do? 


  • Superbetty
    Superbetty Community member Posts: 444 Pioneering
    Did you try CAB? I know it is different, but they helped me a lot when I sued landlord in Small Cases Court. So I think it is worth talking to them, they might direct you to the right place or help you even more, you don't know. I had a gentleman from CAB helping me during my whole case. Good luck:-)
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 9,787 Scope online community team
    I'm sorry to hear about your experience at your previous job @Steve23.

    It might be worth trying out Citizens AdviceACAS or EASS for advice and support. Please also have a look at our web pages on disability discrimination.

    Community Manager
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    stormy said:
    You have done very well to find a solicitor willing to represent you; can you not apply for legal aid?
    Thank you for taking the time to reply Stormy.
    I have tried to get legal aid for my case, but it is extremely difficult/ nearly impossible for employment matters. (Unless you are an ex Prime Minister, lol!)
    I will try CAB again- they may give me some leads.
  • Wibbles
    Wibbles Community member Posts: 1,465 Pioneering
    edited May 19
    Would you really want to return to work for such a company ?
    Are you looking for financial gain - ie) Suing the company ?
    As others have advised - use CAB
    Alternatively - join a trades union - it's not necessarily too late - they may use the case as a "test case"
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Thank you Wibbles, for taking the time to offer some advice.
    I left Tesco just over a year ago, so am not seeking to return to work for them.
    I was in a trade union at the time when the discrimination and bullying happened, but they were little or no help I’m afraid- surprisingly!
    I have since joined a different union, but they have said they can’t help because my dispute pre-dates me joining my new union. Which I think is a fairly standard policy.
    I have found a very good firm of solicitors who have said they would represent me in a personal injury/ occupational stress claim.
    This would cost me 750 pounds.
    But since I left Tesco I’ve been unable to work, due to anxiety and depression caused by what happened there.
    So I am struggling to afford the money to pay for it. And it seems almost impossible to find help with paying legal fees.
    Does anyone know where to turn for help with legal fees please? 

  • Hannah_Scope
    Hannah_Scope Posts: 5,954 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Steve23

    Have you looked at the GOV website for help with legal costs? 
    Hannah - She / Her

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Thank hot Hank you Hannah for that information.
    I’ll look into that.
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    I meant thank you Hannah.
    (Predictive texting!)
  • just4once
    just4once Scope Member Posts: 86 Courageous
    I could not get any legal help with my case either it has been three years of hell the companies behaviours are still causing distress to staff who have no choice but to work there I am self representing and the hearing is in eight days time the legal team for the employer are treating me disgracefully I know if I had my own legal person the could not do this regardless of all of this I will attend the hearing alone known as a litigation in person the court has to make adjustments to make it a fair hearing too in the interest of access to public justice I hope this information is of some use to you
  • just4once
    just4once Scope Member Posts: 86 Courageous
    I am autistic and now have cptsd because of all this going outside causing panic attacks ect my final hearing is four days long been through two preliminary hearings already the only person I have with my is a mental health advocate and she is still learning I will be glad when it’s all over with hopefully then I will have closure too
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Thank you Stormy and just4once, for your replies.
    And thank you for sharing your stories- I’m so sorry you’ve both been through such a horrible and stressful time.
    I know how frustrating it can be when you know you are right, but a big company chooses to play games, and hides behind their expensive lawyers. It is maddening! And it is very difficult getting anyone to help you, so you just feel like you are going round in circles.
    I really hope you both find some peace, and that your health improves.
    And I hope you are getting enough support from family and friends.
    On a practical note, I have come across 2 places that may be of use-

    1) The disability law service, 
    if you Google them you can request a call back on their website for free legal advice.
    Or call them directly.

    2) Civil legal advice service,
    they can assess if you may be entitled to legal aid, for discrimination matters.

    Finally, I’ll just share an old Chinese proverb-
    ‘the best way to defeat your enemy, is by living well.’

    in other words, don’t let them drag you down or stop you living your life and enjoying your life.
    Because then they’ve won.
    Try to take back your life, and make the most of it and enjoy your time.
    I know tribunals can take over your life, but try to take yours back and don’t let the shower of flip flops drag you down!
    All the best to you, and good luck 
  • just4once
    just4once Scope Member Posts: 86 Courageous
    Thank you for your response I have tried all of the above to little avail I now have developed cptsd because of what has happened yet no trauma therapy available mental health team closed me down saying you can call 111 if you need to it really beggars belief how broken the current system is trying to get help especially in rural wales
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Thank you so much for your responses, and the very useful links.
    I’m really sorry you’ve been through such a tough time.
    It is appalling how big companies treat you, instead of taking responsibility for their actions.
    And it’s a shame that more help isn’t available. Either legal, or with counselling.
    I arranged some sessions with a private counsellor, which I paid for myself- at a very reasonable rate I thought.
    I was on a waiting list for counselling through a local charity in York- but didn’t know how long I might have to wait. So the private route was alot quicker, as I felt I needed some help and someone to talk to, sooner rather than later.
    This was because of the stress of the tribunal process.
    I don’t know if private counselling is an option for you?
    There is the BACP website, where you can find qualified counsellors.

    Also the best thing I ever did was to leave my job at Tesco, a year ago. Which is where the bullying and discrimination happened, by the store manager.
    When I left, that’s when I slowly began the process of getting better. It was definitely a good move getting out of the place that had caused so much stress.

    Hope your tribunal goes well- and I hope you are successful.
    I’m sure you know, but if you aren’t successful for any reason you can appeal to the employment tribunal.
    And you can also appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which is a higher authority than the employment tribunal, if you think the E.T got it wrong on a point of law.
    You get 42 days to do this and they are quite strict I think about the time.
    I know it’s just a total hassle and an effort, having to bother with more paperwork .
    Hope that helps- very best of luck , I hope things go your way

  • just4once
    just4once Scope Member Posts: 86 Courageous
    I was a union rep and raised health and safety issues In April 2020 as soon as the two metre distance was announced in wales I used to work on checkouts a job I really loved and needed but where the till drawer where I sat is 36/41 inches as I was also a registered carer for a physically and mentally disabled person add my anxiety and autism the company put profit over safety for no only myself but for our entire community my anxiety increased to me being signed off they sacked me for capability they did not follow correct procedures which is clearly evidenced and submitted to the judge so will wait and see but at least everything gets seen by unbiased legal eyes for which I am grateful the employer has made offers to settle by my rights and silence are not for sale 
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    I'm really sorry for what you've been through, it sounds overwhelming.
    I really hope you get a fair judge, who rules in your favour.

    If you are representing yourself in court, you may be able to take someone with you, either-

    1) A friend or family member
    2) A 'Support Through Court' volunteer- check out their website.
    3) A representative from ACAS- they can possibly assign someone, and can also be a useful source of information.

    It sounds to me like you have a very strong case, so try to stay positive.
    I know it's not always easy, when the firm you're up against try to kick things into the long grass, and frustrate you into giving up.
    But it sounds like you've done all the right things, so well done for showing such courage and integrity.

    Have you asked your doctor about social prescribing?
    It's where you can get referred to a local community group, to help with your health.
    I've been referred to a local nature reserve, to help with my anxiety and depression. They have gardening classes I think, organised walks, bush craft etc.
    Might be worth asking your GP, if it's something you think is worth looking into? 


  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Also, employment tribunal judges are very used to meeting people who are representing themselves- and who aren't seasoned or hardened, cynical lawyers! lol
    I'm sure they will take that into account, and make allowances, and try to help and guide you/ walk you through the process.
    Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Just to add one more suggestion- if you have a good local M.P., you could try writing to them?
    I know that’s sometimes considered a joke, depending on who your MP is!
    I’m very lucky that I’ve got a really good local Labour MP in York, and she gave me a call.
    Had a good chat with her, and she was very understanding and helpful.
    might be worth the price of a stamp?
    I found that writing a letter was better, because e-mails often get drowned out by sheer volume, or missed and not replied to.
  • Steve23
    Steve23 Community member Posts: 16 Connected
    Also, my local MP (Rachael Maskell), put me onto a really good firm of solicitors.
    Called Thompsons solicitors- they have branches around the country I think. Have had a couple of chats with them, and so far they have been absolutely brilliant.
    Very understanding and sympathetic, and very helpful.
    Would definitely recommend them, and if you are in a good union, then they might help with the cost of legal fees.
    I think Thompson’s solicitors mostly handle personal injury claims, which could include occupational stress.
    And you get 3 years to make a personal injury claim.
    Their phone number is 
    0330 173 6125


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