Man with Cerebral Palsy settles discrimination case against former employer Home Bargains

Ryan Walker who had worked for Home Bargains said he was told 'not to play the disability card'. Credit: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

A man with Cerebral Palsy has settled a disability discrimination case against his former employer Home Bargains.

Ryan Walker who had worked in the warehouse of the company's Armagh store from July 2017 said he was told 'not to play the disability card' when he tried to speak up about his needs.

Mr Walker was awarded £25,000 and the case was settled without admission of liability and was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Despite telling the firm that he needed to remain active because of his disability Mr Walker was moved from stacking shelves to working on the tills.

Although he was happy to help out on the tills he could only do so for short periods of time as he needed to move around due to his disability.

Ryan claimed that when he tried to explain to his employer his needs as a disabled person he was told not to “play the disability card.”

Mr Walker claimed he contacted the company’s Wellbeing Team and lodged a formal complaint which resulted in an agreement that he would only work in the warehouse and fill shelves.

However, despite the agreement Ryan claimed he was again ordered to work on the checkouts.

He said it was agreed with his employer, as a reasonable adjustment, that he would only work in the warehouse and fill shelves. But despite this agreement, Ryan alleges he was again ordered to work on the checkouts. Ryan wrote to Home Bargains to express his anger at the situation but felt in the end he had no other option but to resign.

Home Bargains settled the case without admitting liability. It has refused to comment on the case.

Ryan said: “This has been an awful experience. I went from enjoying a job for three years to dreading going into work.

"I was honest with my employer about my disability from the start. I was eager to work. I wanted to do a good job, but it was as if some supervisors and managers simply did not care about my disability. In the end, I felt I had no option but to resign as I felt it was damaging my health.” Mary Kitson, Senior Legal Officer, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said: “There is simply no place for disability discrimination in workplaces in Northern Ireland.

"Ryan was keen to work and valued his employment. He proactively advised his employer about his disability from the outset and reasonable adjustments were agreed. “The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 imposes a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities. “Employers must operate within our equality laws. They must ensure that they treat all employees who are disabled with dignity and respect in the workplace. 

"No employee with a disability should feel that their needs are not understood or valued by their employer.”

In a statement Home Bargains said: “We consider this to be a private matter, and out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we will not be providing any comment or further information on this case.”

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