The Hull Employment Tribunal has awarded £45,000 to disabled worker Michelle Proctor after she was unfairly dismissed from her role at a care provision service when they refused to make reasonable adjustments for her.
The Yorkshire-based Haxby Practice Group were repeatedly asked to provide Proctor with voice recognition software on her computer to reduce the amount of typing she would need to do, as her carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis made it difficult for her to type, resulting in her taking multiple periods of sick leave to recover from the pain in her hands.
Proctor began working as a clerical assistant at the GP practice in 1994, and her employer was aware that she lived with a number of disabilities which would affect her ability to type, including arthritis in both hands and tendonitis in her wrists and arms, and had undergone surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome.
Despite frequently liaising with her line manager and HR, who were aware of her occupational therapist’s recommendation that the company install software called Dragon Professional Natural Speaking to reduce her typing load, Proctor was forced to go on several periods of leave, during which she made it clear that she expected the software to be installed on her return – which it wasn’t.
In a letter to HR dated November 2015, she wrote: “The delay in providing support to my working environment has been instrumental in the severity of my injury. I would also like to clarify the reason I did not come in whilst on the sick to train on the new software, is that my hands will be required to operate the keyboard in conjunction with the voice recognition and at this moment the pain would be too great.”
The HR manager also told the tribunal that she did not want to “undermine” Proctor by installing the software for her as it was “her project.”
After two years of clashing, in a grievance meeting Proctor said that she had lost trust and confidence in her employer, who had provided a number of alternatives to her working schedule to compensate for the issue, none of which truly addressed the problem. She resigned on 28 September 2015.
The tribunal ordered compensation be given for unlawful discrimination, unfair dismissal and injury to feelings, which amounted to a total of £44,673.75 for Proctor.
A spokesperson for Haxby Group Practice said: “We are committed to supporting all our staff here at Haxby Group, across our nine surgery sites. We are satisfied that this case has now been settled and wish Mrs Proctor well.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine