May 10, 2017
The mother of a disabled child has been awarded £18,886 workplace discrimination compensation after a tribunal found she was singled out for redundancy.
From November 2010 until March 2015, Maria McKeith worked part-time as an advice assistant for the Ardoyne Association – an advisory centre in north Belfast. She enjoyed working four mornings a week at the centre as she knew her disabled daughter was in the good care of a family friend.
However, in early 2015, Maria´s manager told her twice to take an extended leave to care for her child. Maria reluctantly agree, and on her return from her second leave of absence was told she was being made redundant on the grounds that there was insufficient funding for her position.
Maria sought legal advice and claimed workplace discrimination compensation against her former employer – alleging that her manager had assumed she would require more time off in the future to care for her disabled child and had made her decision on that basis.
In March 2016, an employment tribunal agreed with Maria´s perception of the circumstances and found in her favour. The Ardoyne Association appealed the decision; but, in November last year, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal upheld the employment tribunal´s decision.
In their judgement, the Appeal Court judges that the process of selecting Maria for redundancy was unfair, that there had been no effective consultation in relation to the proposed redundancies and that there had been no consideration of employing Maria in an alternative role.
The judges concluded that Maria had been treated less favourably because of her disabled daughter, and this represented direct discrimination contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The judges then referred the claim back to the employment tribunal to determine how much workplace discrimination compensation Maria was entitled to.
The employment tribunal made its decision this week, and awarded Maria £18,886 workplace discrimination compensation to account for her injury to feelings and loss of earnings. The award also included an amount of £2,126 to account for interest since the claim was first made.
Speaking with ITV news after her award of workplace discrimination compensation had been announced, Maria said: “I did not ask for any special treatment and I did not welcome it. I enjoyed coming to work, meeting people and being able to advise and help them and I knew my daughter was being cared for while I was at work. I hope that this will help make sure that other people in my position are not treated in this way.”