NI employee with mental health issues wins disability discrimination case
A Northern Ireland woman has been awarded over £11,000 in compensation after winning her disability discrimination case, which she brought when her employers took 14months to consider her request for reduced hours on the basis of mental health problems.
Marie-Claire McLaughlin worked for the car firm Charles Hurst, and was working on average 47.8 hours per week. She applied to her employers to reduce her hours down to 40 hours per week, specifically making reference to her mental ill health and previous bouts of depression and panic attacks. While the tribunal did say that the company did not “victimise nor harass the claimant”, it did say that it had failed to deal with her request in a timely or appropriate manner. It said the company had erred in dealing with her request as an application for flexible working, and considering it in light of the needs of the business. It said the request should have been dealt with as a request for reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The tribunal decided that the delay in delaying Ms McLaughlin’s request had affected her mental health and well-being. A spokesperson for Charles Hurst said that the company fully accepted the ruling, and that it “vehemently opposes all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination”.
Dr Michael Wardlow of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland called on employers “to be more pro-active in addressing issues around mental health”.