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“Victory for deaf man in landmark judgment”

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Last updated 22nd September 2019.

A deaf person was turned down for a job as he was unable to answer incoming telephone calls. The employment tribunal held the employer should have made reasonable adjustments by rearranging job duties.

August 2002, “Victory for deaf man in landmark judgement” (archive of equality-ne.co.uk).

The claimant was interviewed for a job with an NHS Trust as a part-time medical records clerk. He did not succeed in his job application however as he was unable to answer incoming phone calls.

The employment tribunal held that the Trust had failed to make reasonable adjustments contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The tribunal decided that the job tasks could have easily been rearranged so that he did not have to answer the phone. And answering the phone was not a major part of the job.

It was the duty of the employer to make reasonable adjustments that would have overcome or reduced his problems regarding the telephone and yet, despite the claimant’s own suggestions, no action was taken. Adjustment to the job duties could have been made without any great inconvenience or expense on the part of the Trust.

The Disability Rights Commission acted for the claimant, and said it was the first case involving a deaf person discriminated against at work because no adjustments were made to allow him to avoid telephone work.

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