Tribunal finds company failed to make reasonable adjustments for employees disability, even though they didn’t know

Keith Crossland, a diabetic seasonal security guard for a Cardiff based security firm called Chamberlains Security, who left his job after suffering a hypoglycaemic attack has won his Employment Tribunal.

A Bristol Employment Tribunal heard that Mr Crossland had worked at the firm from 29 July to 26th October as a seasonal security guard. His duties at Llandegfedd Reservoir on behalf of Welsh Water including patrolling the reservoir by himself and he was employed on a zero hours contract, but usually worked around 53 hours per week.

The Welsh Water site had very little phone reception and a large six-foot gate that couldn’t be unlocked from the outside. On his 10th October shift, Crossland suffered a hypoglycemic attack while sat in his car waiting to be relieved from his shift. Crossland had fallen asleep and as only woken when another security officer knocked on the window.

While Mr Crossland was having his attack, Chamberlains Security Director, Richard Trevivian, received a call to tell him that no one could access the site because the gate only opens from the inside and they were unable to catch Crossland’s attention due to him being severely disorientated from his hypoglycemic attack.

Mr Trevivian told the caller to call for an ambulance and then decided to go to the site himself to see what was going on. By the time he arrived at the Welsh Water site the ambulance had already been and and taken Mr Crossland to hospital. During phone conversation later in the day, Crossland informed Trevivian that he had suffered a hypoglycemic attack. This was the first time Trevivian knew about Crossland’s diabetes.

On the 11th October, using information from the internet, Trevivian did a risk assessment of the site and concluded that making any ‘reasonable adjustments’ would not make the site safer and were not really feasible. He also advised Crossland that he could no longer work at the Welsh Water reservoir but would look for other positions.

Trevivian discussed his findings with Crossland and as a result of no more suitable position being found, Crossland asked for his P45. As there was no work available, Crosland explained how he wanted to sign on for benefits. However, In November, Crossland filed a formal grievance stating that he was entitled to a meeting where they would discuss the reasons behind his dismissal.

A meeting was arranged for December, where Trevivian enquired as to why Crossland had not informed them of his diabetes earlier and was concerned that being that close to a large body of water could be dangerous if an attack came on. Crossland asked whether the areas had been risk assessed or if an occupational health report had been asked for. Trevivian said that they had not.

Judge Pirani allowed claims for failure to make reasonable adjustments, victimisation and discrimination. Judge Pirani stated that they key responsibility for this lies with the employer to make reasonable adjustments for a disability and that Trevivian should have gone further that ‘internet research’ to understand diabetes.

However, the judge added that it was “reckless in the extreme” for Crossland not to inform his employer that he was diabetic.

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