Labour Research July 2016

Law Matters

Signficant disability victory

The CWU communications union has announced a significant victory in a disability discrimination case against Vodafone. 

The union helped member Andrew Winfield pursue claims of disability discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments and unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal and then, when Vodafone refused to accept the tribunal’s findings, in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

Winfield was a sales advisor at Vodafone for many years. He was working fixed shifts to help him cope with Type 2 diabetes. He was doing well and earning a high level of commission. 

The introduction of flexible shifts in 2009 marked a deterioration in the situation at work. Winfield suffered more hypoglaecemic attacks, his performance suffered, he was subject to disciplinary procedure and ultimately went off sick with stress and depression. 

After he issued a tribunal claim for failure to implement reasonable adjustments, Vodafone re-introduced a fixed shift pattern for Winfield, but did not reduce his targets. Disciplinary action continued against Winfield when he failed to meet targets and he was dismissed in October 2014. 

Winfield lodged a second claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. With the CWU’s support he convinced the tribunal and EAT that Vodafone had failed to make reasonable adjustments as far back as 2009. 

He has been awarded substantial damages.