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Press release from Unison follows with local authority comment at end....
Press release from Unison follows with local authority comment at end.

A Staffordshire CC social worker has won her claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal.

Gwen Huggins, 47, had worked for the council since 1991. She became ill and unable to work following the council's failure to replace her specially adapted chair when it became broken and make other necessary adjustments. She was then dismissed on the grounds that she was incapable of carrying out her duties.

The Birmingham tribunal, in a reserved judgment, found that Mrs Huggins' 'long term sickness absence arose substantially as a result of the county council's failure to make reasonable adjustments in respect of the claimant's disability . It would be perverse to suggest that an employer is acting reasonably when the dismissal is brought about largely as a result of the employers default.'

Unison regional officer Andrew Johnson said:

'This disabled lady was forced out of her job because of the lamentable failure of the county council to make adjustments that the law required it to make. Unison welcomes the findings of the tribunal and will be seeking a six figure sum in compensation as Mrs Huggins may never be able to work again. Unison calls upon Staffordshire County Council to review urgently its policies and procedures for disabled employees.

'As a result of their failure not only has Mrs Huggins career been terminated early but the people the council serves have lost the services of someone who by all accounts was an excellent and dedicated social worker'.

Mrs Huggins said today:

'I am very pleased that after all my suffering and distress the tribunal has ruled in my favour. I hope that the county council will think twice before discriminating against disabled people in the future.'

A Staffordshire CC spokesman told LGCnet today:

'We were surprised and disappointed with this judgment, and are currently considering our respon se, particularly as the county council had made extensive efforts to keep Mrs Huggins in employment.'

  • The judgment is available in PDF format from LGCnet.

    Tel 0207 347 1832/3.

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