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Constrtuctive Dismissal? Demotion & Disability Discrimination


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Dear all,

 

I am new and this is a rather long story so please bear with me.

 

I have been employed since November last year at a company on a staff basis. I am new to this having always been contract so don't know my rights.

 

My employment contract has a two part job title; One related to occupational health and the other QHSE Advisor. I am a qualified professional with 15 years experience yet I am now reduced to sales and administration.

 

I report to the MD and it started with gradual reduction of my QHSE duties. There was no consultation, change of contract, in fact my job description still had both job titles and the organisation chart showed me in this role. Without notice or consultation all my QHSE duties have been give to an administrator. I was not told in advance, in fact the administrator sent out an email to the entire group on Monday with a revised organogram with her on as group QHSE reporting to the directors, I am no longer on the organogram and don't know my position.

 

Going slightly farther back. I have autistic spectrum disorder or more commonly known as Aspergers. As stated I have been doing this work for 15 years without problems. My particular problems relate to sensory stimulus such as noise and light. They have open plan, cramped offices which breach legislation and the noise was causing me considerable distress. Farther the Unit Manager who was supposed to be at the same level as me was going around the office telling people I had OCD & Autism, neither of which is true and frankly she had no business notifying anyone.

 

Due to cramped conditions the MD moved me to a cupboard that has been converted to an office. I previously asked the unit manager if I could move explaining the open plan was causing problems giving my disability, she refused. I can only imagine that the MD deciding to move me caused resentment when I had been told no by the Unit Manager. Prior to moving, the Unit Manager asked me unannounced one day if I had a minute, I followed her to the conference room where the Commercial Director was waiting. The Unit Manager sat there whilst the Commericial Director proceeded to berate and reprimand me. He said I was rude to everyone, if asked to do anythign I told people it was not my job and to go away. None of this is true, I asked for specific instances which he was unable. I felt totally humiliated and upset to the point of crying and of course I had to return to the open plan area in such a state. I was told that being moved into this cupboard would prevent any further disruption on my part. This was really hurtful since I was being moved by the MD due to lack of space and increasing numbers yet they were making it sound like a punishment.

 

There was no record of minute of this meeting.

 

Since moving to this cupboard which has no natural lighting or ventilation I have developed serious asthma. I have always had allergies but the asthma was severe to the point my GP put me in a strong course of steroids. I am now on two different steroid inhalers, leukotrine inhibitors and antihistamines, I am worse in the office. I find myself unable to breathe, the dust and stale air are stifling. I am sneezing, eyes running, sore throat. This is ridiculous because as an HSE professional I know the problems here, I even advise other clients on how to manage such conditions but I am powerless to control my own working environment.

 

I have had two instances of sick days, both two days when my allergies and asthma became so bad. Soon as I was out of the office my symptoms improved.

 

My GP has diagnosed work related stress but I cannot take time off sick as I am only entitled to 5 days paid sickness absence. As someone with autism I have a number of coping strategies which disappear when I am stressed so I become more sensitive to stimulus, unable to communicate with people, withdrawn and obsessed with repetition and routine.

 

I have not spoken to them or asked anything because I feel so intimidated and my disability is makes it impossible for me to communicate under such stressful conditions.

 

The non occupational health part of my role is meant to be consulting. So providing occupational health services to clients. First this is not full-time consulting, the majority of my work is doing administrative tasks because I get no support. I have to type everything myself, I am even forbidden to ask administration to frank a letter for me, an email was sent out stating this. I am also under increasing pressure from the MD to perform a sales role in respect of the occupational health I do which is unfair and not something I claim to have any skills in and I didn't sign up for this, I signed up to DO the work, not get the business. They have a marketing department for that. I am now required to have these fortnightly meetings with the MD which I have come to dread so much they make me feel sick, I have one tomorrow and I'd rather have root canal than go. I basically get berated and pressured regarding my sales, i.e. income from consulting.

 

None of this is in my job description and none of this I signed up for.

 

i read somewhere that my employer might claim there was financial benefit in removing my QHSE duties as they are an overhead and making my consulting work full time. However that's not accurate as my role is not full-time consulting due to the admin and sales and besides, I am the one qualified to fulfil a QHSE Role, not the administrator that has been given these duties.

 

Nor did they do this in appropriate manner, I was not consulted, not even notified, until I received an emial from the administrator announcing her appointment to the entire organisation. This is completely humiliating. Here i am doing administration that I'm overqualified to do and an administrator has taken on management responsibility for QHSE with no qualifications.

 

What do I do? Do I have any rights? Can they fire me?

 

I have been advised by an HR friend not to put anything in writing to them but to ask them certain questions on the spot. However we then get back to the disability and the stress making it impossible to communicate.

 

I cannot afford to resign, I need a job.

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P.S. There is no union. There is an HR Officer and her assistant. Have left messages asking to speak with them which haven't responded to. Besides, the HR Officer was instrumental in making and communicating these changes without my knowledge.

 

She also sent me an email last week with a revised job description of mine with the QHSE duties removed. I have not signed it or agreed with it. Plus my contract of employment still has my QHSE role.

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Someone more knowledgeable will be along in due course I am sure - but my first question would be, can you stick it out until Nov? The reason I ask is that I am sure that your rights are significantly higher once you have been employed for one year. Prior to this point, any pushing of the matter I would be concerned may impact upon your job security.

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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Hi Mr Shed,

 

Thanks for replying. Will try my best, concern is they might get rid of me before then. Plus the danger is the longer I have to try and cope whilst under stress the more difficult my disability is to manage. I can't go off sick because I don't have any sick time left as only allowed 5 days in 12 months.

 

I am applying for other jobs and really hope something comes up, if it does I'll leave, even if it's before a year because health and professional respect are more important than this lot.

 

That's another thing, in contract it says I'm required to give them one months notice of leave but they only need to give me 1 weeks notice. Is that fair? I mean shouldn't any contract be fair to both parties and not biased towards one?

 

It also says something about a probationary period in the contract, I have never been advised of any probationary period. As far as I know I'm not on one.

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Will address in turn:

 

- First and foremost, your health is the most important thing, so ultimately if your health is detoriating enough absolutely that takes priority over anything else.

- AFAIK, a contract has to be fair to both parties as you say, and as such I would consider the 1 weeks notice to be unenforceable.

- Probationary period is fairly standard, but I would expect it to be 6 months at a maximum. AFAIK, probationary period in LAW is pretty much a non-entity, so I wouldnt worry too much about it.

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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