Man settles disability discrimination case against Haldane Fisher Ltd for £20,000

Mark Graham who has settled a disability discrimination case against Haldane Fisher Ltd for £20,000. Mr Graham worked as a sales representative for the building supplies company for 28 yearsMark Graham who has settled a disability discrimination case against Haldane Fisher Ltd for £20,000. Mr Graham worked as a sales representative for the building supplies company for 28 years
Mark Graham who has settled a disability discrimination case against Haldane Fisher Ltd for £20,000. Mr Graham worked as a sales representative for the building supplies company for 28 years
A man has settled a disability discrimination case against Haldane Fisher Ltd for £20,000.

Mark Graham worked as a sales representative for the building supplies company for 28 years.

In 2017, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Following a period of sick leave, he returned to work and was then diagnosed with Meniere's Disease which affected his hearing.

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In October 2019, Mr Graham was offered the position of Area Merchant Sales Representative for the Republic of Ireland.

In May 2021, following the Covid pandemic, the company indicated they wished all external sales representatives to be back out on the road.

Due to ongoing restrictions in the Republic of Ireland and his vulnerable person status, Mr Graham said he had planned to resume in person meetings at the end of that month.

In the ensuing months, Mr Graham's employer held two sets of meetings with him which included an investigation into him not being out on the road, but no disciplinary action was taken.

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He said this experience left him feeling very distressed, and he then took a period of sick leave and lodged a grievance which was not upheld.

Mr Graham went on to ask for a reasonable adjustment to his working pattern, requesting to work three days per week meeting customers and two days working from home. However he said this was declined and he was offered four days on the road and one day in the office on a trial basis for one month. But if sales figures fell, he was to revert to five days on the road.

At the end of this month-long trial, Mr Graham alleged that there was no review of the arrangement, and by October 2022 he said he felt that he had no alternative but to resign due to the impact on his health of the amount of time he was on the road.

The case was supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

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It was settled through mediation and without any admission of liability by Haldane Fisher Ltd.

Mr Graham said it had been "a very difficult time".

"I'm disappointed that after 28 years' service, my career ended as it did," he said.

"I needed my employer to support me to remain in a job I enjoyed and was very good at. I believe they did not fully understand my disability. I felt that I was considered a burden and that I could not be trusted."

Eoin O'Neill, director of legal services, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, added: "Employees with disabilities should be supported in the workplace.

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"The legislation requires employers to fully consider requests for reasonable adjustments to help their disabled employees to remain in work and this might include offering alternative working patterns.

"Failure to do so, can make employers subject to challenge through the courts."

As part of the settlement, Haldane Fisher Ltd has reaffirmed its strong commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in employment and agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission to review its policies and procedures to ensure they conform to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The case was settled without admission of liability in November 2023 .

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