Disabled woman awarded €6,000

A DISABLED woman who claimed colleagues regularly adjusted the height of her special office chair as a practical joke has been awarded €6,000 in compensation.

Karen Bradford, who worked for the Public Appointments Service, also claimed that for five weeks she was the only member of staff on the fifth floor of the Grand Canal Street building where the service was based, before moving to new offices on Abbey Street.

The service denied both claims and the Equality Tribunal, which adjudicated on the case, did not find in Ms Bradford’s favour in either of these respects. However, the tribunal did find the service had “failed to provide Ms Bradford with reasonable accommodation” under employment equality legislation and ordered it to pay her €6,000 by way of compensation for stress.

Ms Bradford’s disability was as a result of two traffic accidents that left her with serious neck, back and hand pain. Ms Bradford therefore found it difficult to undertake a lot of typing or to use a mouse for lengthy periods of time.

She was assigned to duties in the reception area building at Abbey Street Upper, where she worked for about nine months. After this she was assigned to duties in the business support unit where she worked for about six months.

Ms Bradford said that in July 2002 she was transferred to duties in the paramedic recruitment section. Here she says she was required to do large amounts of typing “and this tended to aggravate her back and neck condition and to which, because of her disability, she was unsuited”, according to the tribunal’s summary of the case.

According to Ms Bradford, her repeated requests for a transfer to more suitable duties were ignored.

Her claim that she was isolated from the rest of the organisation for about five weeks when the rest of her colleagues moved to new offices, was denied by the service who said she was there to assist a manager who had also remained on in the old building.

In a submission to the tribunal, the service said every effort was made to accommodate Ms Bradford, including facilitating a transfer request inside the usual timeframe for having worked with the service.

In addition “it was her manager’s recollection that he told her on a number of occasions that she should not do anything that would cause her physical discomfort and that she should take breaks away from her desk as and when required”, the tribunal summary said.

While the Equality Tribunal concluded not all of Ms Bradford’s claims were legitimate, it did find the service had “failed to provide Ms Bradford with reasonable accommodation”. In addition to paying Ms Bradford €6,000 by way of compensation, it also ordered that all service staff receive training in disability issues.

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