'I've been bullied at work for my epilepsy' says woman urging employers to step up support

Korri James says she hasn't been supported properly by previous employers and she's not alone.

A woman from Cardiff says she has faced bullying and discrimination in the workplace because of her epilepsy.

Korri James, 27, was first diagnosed with the condition when she was nine, after having a stroke.

In an interview with ITV News, Korri says she's been told by previous employers that her epilepsy "puts other staff members at risk", leaving her feeling upset and shocked that she could be treated in such a way.

"I would be crying, I would have moments where I was like, I'm just useless I should leave this place and I just couldn't cope with it.

"Every time I had to phone in sick for a seizure, they would punish me, I would have warning after warning, no matter how many times I brought up the discrimination act.

"The amount of people that have got epilepsy and can't get a job and over 60% get discriminated in workplaces because managers don't know anything about epilepsy really."

And it appears that Korri isn't alone when it comes to how she's treated in the workplace.

New research from the charity Epilepsy Action UK, shows more than half of people with epilepsy surveyed in Wales have faced discrimination at work.

It's now calling for a wider understanding from companies and a change to penalties when it comes to breaking the Equality Act.

According to figures from Epilepsy Action UK, 60% of people with the condition face workplace discrimination, including bullying and unequal treatment.

There is also said to be only 42% of people who have epilepsy who are employed, with 12% facing a wage gap, compared to their non-disabled peers.

The organisation's research also found that almost half (49%) of employees surveyed wouldn't report bullying or discrimination claims at their company out of fear of reprisals. Meanwhile, 32% of people say they have seen their condition used against them at appraisals.

Epilepsy Action UK says employers can make reasonable adjustments to support those with epilepsy, like having flexible working hours, remote work possibilities and ergonomic seating for safety and fatigue reduction.

It also says seizure action plans and comprehensive training in epilepsy and awareness and first aid is imperative for all companies.

On top of that is says businesses should have private spaces provided for those to recover from a seizure if one occurs in the workplace.

The charity is now calling on the UK Government to take a stance on the matter, saying that the current Equality Act appears to be ineffective at supporting those with epilepsy.

It is also asking people to sign a petition calling on the government to strengthen employment law and ensure that employers are properly punished for discriminating against disabled people.

Epilepsy Action deputy chief executive Rebekah Smith said: “In 2023, it’s simply unacceptable for so many people with epilepsy to still face unequal treatment and discrimination at work.

"What’s even more concerning is seeing how widespread the misunderstanding of the condition seems to be among managers and employers, the very people who have the power to hire and dictate company culture.”

Their survey included 1,420 people with epilepsy and 500 UK employers and managers. 101 employees in the survey are said to be from Wales. 

In response to the figures cited by Epilepsy Action UK, a UK Government spokesperson has said, "This country has some of the strongest equalities legislation in the world thanks to the Equality Act 2010.

“The Act ensures that disabled people have the same right to be fairly treated at work as everyone else. Where it is proven in court or tribunal, individuals who experience discrimination at work can be awarded compensation.”

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