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Disability Discrimination at work?

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Moon
Moon Community member Posts: 3 Listener
edited June 2022 in Work and employment
Hi, I am new to this site.  I wonder if anyone can help me please.........I have Sjogren's Syndrome ( a "hidden disability") with many debilitating manifestations (which I call my 'living hell') which result in a miserable living existence.  An auto immune condition which effects all aspects of my life.  Following an OH assessment requested by my firm, because of my absence due to work related stress (frenetic and totally chaotic and disruptive  boss, v.heavy workload which finally "broke me"), the firm has made some reasonable adjustments in the form of readjusted work pattern, a tailored specialist chair, a desk rest for documents and papers and I have been allowed to use fans to help keep me cool - although the latter items worsen my no moisture in my eyes and respiratory system.  Sjogren's attacks the body's moisture producing glands and they stop working so no tears, no saliva and I don't perspire!  It also attacks other organs in the body such as lungs, liver, bowels and brain and so brain fog, dry cough, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, risk of dental cavies and tooth loss, irritability, depression, anxiety, I have diverticulosis, light sensitivity, UV rays cause itching so keep out of the sun, difficulty sleeping, numbness of arms and hands, spasms, muscle fatigue and fatigue in every shape and form (12 types of fatigue with Sjogren's - google it!) it has attacked my thyroid so on medication for that, polymyalgia and muscle fatigue...and it is the fatigue issue which now eventually brings me to my need for assistance on this site.

My large muscle groups are affected by this condition - walking is painful but achievable on the flat/level although fatigue takes over often as it can come on suddenly and then the need to rest/recover to carry on, I have difficulty rising from using the loo, walking up any incline and I have to pull myself up stairs using banisters, I go on hands and knees up my stairs at home, my ankles can give way and I have fallen over a number of times, carrying shopping anywhere (to/from the car at the shops or at home is tiring and painful) v v v painful cramping in major leg muscles - my life is now all about reducing stress and strain and fatigue...so, v invested in time saving ways to not overstretch my energy levels but at the same time recognising my need to be mobile - I have had two unprovoked blood clots now so v v worried on this front.  I walk down stairways sometimes, depending on fatique and pain level, but it does come at a cost

One of the ways my employer could help is to allow me to continue to park in our office car park just outside my office building.  The OH report included  this and although I have been using a space in our office car park for the last three years (I should add that this came about purely due to lock-down due to Covid when employees all worked at home but our department carried on due to the nature of our work and so the car park was very empty and I could use it), I have been told the company can no longer allow me to park there.  I have been told to park in the public car park on the basis that I walk at weekends and carry shopping!  I should add I try to walk at weekends and sometimes don't achieve a walk, spending it in bed recovering from the working week (37.5 hours) and I have obviously been seen carrying some shopping back to my car during my lunchtime...but that comes at a cost for carrying one carrier bag with a few things in! It's all about not over extending oneself...my HR dept and my 'People Manager' (line manager) just don't get it.  Parking in the public car park means walking 10-15 minutes to/from my car as opposed to 3 minutes in the office car park. My hidden disability has been confirmed by my GP to my employers as a disability under the Equality Act.  I do not have a Blue Badge.  There is another colleague in the office who has a Blue Badge and she has been allowed to park in our office car park.  I asked if I got a Blue Badge, would I be able to park in the office car park and my HR dept has said no.  I have asked why and was told because the other person already has a Blue Badge. 

Is this disability discrimination?

Comments

  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi and welcome to the community 

    It could be deemed as discrimination hard to pin point.  I can see why the person with blue badge is allowed to park there and as you don't have one that could be the difference 

    But there should be no reason why you can't if you get a blue badge as basically they are saying no-one in the future who is disabled will be able to park close 

    Why do they have an issue with you parking there ? Who is allowed to park there etc 

    You shouldn't need the blue badge to prove your disability unless you are parking in a designated disabled space 

    I would put in a grievance and ask for more explanation as to why this can't be accomplished 
  • Sue_Alumni
    Sue_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 486 Pioneering
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    Hi @Moon and a warm welcome from to the online community.  It’s good to have you on board.  Do take a moment to have a look around the online site and also the main Scope site which has links to various campaigns and factsheets specific to employment problems  Discrimination at work | Disability charity Scope UK

    Employment questions are outside my area of expertise but your employer seems to be aware that he is, by law, required to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace so that you receive the same services as someone who is not disabled.  You are saying that you need your employer to provide accessible parking so that you can access your workplace. The Equality Act says the employer is under a  Duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people - Citizens Advice if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage compared with non disabled people who don’t have your disability.

    Your employer is refusing to to allocate a parking space to you because they do not accept or understand the extent of your mobility issues.

    Is it reasonable for your employer to provide you with a parking space ? Various factors are taken into account and these are set out in the Citizens Advice link and you would need to show that it is a practical solution as parking is already available and it would mean that you could access the work place without significant pain as supported in your medical letters.  Do you have standard rate mobility PIP ? If so that would be some evidence that the DWP has accepted you can’t walk the distance to the car park on a regular basis without it causing you significant pain. The fact that your employer has already accommodated another disabled employee does not absolve your employer from making reasonable adjustments for you unless they can demonstrate that it is not reasonable to do so.  

    Deciding what to do about discrimination at work - Citizens Advice is hard and you seem to have already raised the issue on an informal basis.  If this is getting you nowhere you might need to raise a grievance with your employer.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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  • Moon
    Moon Community member Posts: 3 Listener
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    Thanks both janer1967 and Sue_Scope and for the warm welcome. 

    My firm occupies a floor in a building block with other firms.  It has been allocated a certain number of parking spaces and there is no disabled bay curiously.  Within its allocation, the firm has itself allocated a number of those spaces to those higher up the firm's food chain (Partners) and also has designated 6/7 spaces to client parking.  It is in one of the client parking spaces that the person with the Blue Badge parks.  I think the issue is they don't wan't to lose another client parking space to another lowly member of staff and when I said that the other person is becoming more mobile now, walking properly with a walking stick and not on crutches (nerve damage issue due to broken ankle which the person is working through after about 7 years!) and asked how was it still possible for her to park there as she can also walk outside of work, I was told "Well, she has a Blue Badge already (as I mentioned previously) and there are other people with issues " - so I have a feeling they don't want to allow me to park there as it will open up the floodgates for others to ask to park there too. 

    I feel the firm deems they have made reasonable adjustments by getting me a bespoke chair, a document holder for my papers and allowed me to use a fan.  I am allowed to have a window open but not as wide as previously as others feel the draft (understandably) and I appreciate that it is difficult to get an office climate suited to  everyone's needs.

    Also, the HR lady who promised me she would "sort it out" and I was told "not to worry" by her, has either backtracked or been told to hold the line on the parking front AND she is leaving the firm in September so I feel she has disengaged with my issue now....great!  I feel it is an issue of "shut up and put up".......

    I don't receive PIP.  Didn't know what it entailed until now, thank you.  I just get on with things and if I can't do things, I don't do them or do them when my energy levels dictate I can...it's a battle of mind over matter every day and I an a v independent person but I am sure there will come a time......

    I previously sat under an air conditioning unit which gave me great relief from over-heating (didn't help my dry eyes issue but I put up with that in favour of not getting overheated which is more dangerous) but I have now been moved to a more open area in the office where I do not have this luxury.  The reason I am mentioning this is that when I was under the air-conditioning unit,  the very fact that my People Manager said to me once when she came by my desk, "gosh it's cold here, can we not have the unit off for a while, as it's all about compromise", I replied that I do try and compromise when I can for the sake of others but I can't really compromise where my health is concerned and I offered to give her my condition to see how she would fair.....on the basis that others can put more layers of clothing on if cold but I cannot do much to not get overheated, which happens very quickly..and there is a risk of my fainting and developing blood clots for when the body gets hot, blood vessels expand and blood doesn't move round the body so well. [even at home I rarely have the heating on]....

    Tells you all we need to know about my firm I guess....it doesn't really care I feel and it appears to have "ticked a few boxes" in terms of making some reasonable adjustments. Incidentally, I do all I can to keep cool in respect of clothing and it's really hard to explain to anyone who doesn't perspire what its like to try and keep from overheating and that I need help with this.

    The boss I worked for for 12.5 years has now retired and hence the office being rejigged (along with who works for whom) which meant my moving back to near enough where I started and where I then had overheating issues, so nothing has changed.  I am told that is the way they want the office to work now.........AND I am working for the People Manager now (an ex-employment solicitor) AND my ex-boss who is working under a consultancy agreement!  I sense the firm is constructing my leaving in some way (I may be wrong) ....however, I cannot leave and/or give up work as I need the money.

    I feel there is an intransigent stance being taken by the firm here and to bring a grievance would not go in my favour right now.........particularly when in meetings with my People Manager when I have got very upset, her face has remained unchanged showing a "poker face" expression - no empathy or emotion.  It is very difficult I must say and I have never known this all my life with those I have worked with - and they are known as "People" Managers.....laughable in my humble opinion, though I am not laughing obviously.  I sincerely hope she is not a member of this site!!!!

    As I don't know employment law I am hoping someone here might shed even more light on the parking matter than you have both provided, for which I thank you.....(sorry to have wandered a bit off the subject to my overheating issue).  I don't often ask for anyone's help (my issue I know) and I just thought others might be able to share the benefit of their grey cells with me on the parking matter as I don't know the legalities to "defend" myself when the firm tells me this is how it is going to be..I feel "in a cleft stick" as they say...sorry for such a v v long post.........
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