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Case Study: Unfair Dismissal Following an Employer’s Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments to Job Role

Employment Law team


How Sarah Henderson, Employment Law Associate in our Brighton Office, negotiated a settlement for a client with arthritis who was dismissed because she was unable to carry out physical tasks associated with her job role.

The situation

Maggie had worked as a Supervisor at a care home for a number of years. She had arthritis which affected her knees and was getting progressively worse. Her job involved a lot of moving and carrying which she found increasingly painful.

She was referred to her employer’s Occupational Health doctor who confirmed that she was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act and recommended adjustments to her role to allow her to minimise the tasks which were problematic. The employer agreed to the recommended adjustments but in practice, due to understaffing, Maggie had to keep doing them. This led to periods of time off sick which her employer dealt with under with their capability procedures, eventually referring her to Occupational Health again.

Occupational Health again recommended that she refrain from excessive physical activity but this time the employer concluded that they were not prepared to accommodate this adjustment and proceeded to dismiss her. They stated that the adjustments were not reasonable for their organisation given their size and resources.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Maggie had already lodged a claim for unfair dismissal when she sought our advice.  We made an urgent application to amend the claim to include a claim under the Equality Act for failures to make reasonable adjustments and unfavourable treatment (dismissal) because of something arising in consequence of her disability, which could not be justified.

Maggie’s employer did not oppose the amendment application but they maintained that they had made reasonable adjustments and that the decision to dismiss Maggie was justified.

We attended a Preliminary Hearing (Case Management) at which the Employment Judge set directions for the preparation of the case for hearing.

The result

Before the hearing, we negotiated a settlement of the claim for £20,000 which recognised and compensated Maggie for her loss of earnings and injury to feelings in recognition that her former employer’s treatment had exacerbated her disability.

If you are experiencing disability discrimination in the workplace, or if your employer is failing to make reasonable adjustments contact our Employment Law Team on 01273 609911, or email

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