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Heart Attack & Disability Discrimination?


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Hello, I am trying to find out some info, as earlier this year, my mother and stepfather were running a pub and my mum had a fairly serious heart attack - when my stepfather rang up obviously in a state to tell the owners that he wouldnt be able to open for the afternoon at least, as his wife had been rushed to hospital and he was obviously going to be following her, the owner told him in just about these exact words "you better open this afternoon or you will be sacked, she is going to die anyway, so why bother going" and hung up. My stepdad went to hospital anyway as you would, and got a phonecall later that afternoon telling them they were both sacked.

 

They had only been there a couple of months, but would these circumstances actually count as disability discrimination, as she was sacked for a health problem? They did contact ACAS who told them they were not interested and refused to help or advise in any way.

 

Her GP has told her she is not fit for work.

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Hi caledfwich.................... I am pretty sure that this is direct disability discrimination against your mother and disability RELATED discrimination against your father and possibly victimisation. Anyway it is appalling behaviour and should be challenged.

 

My concerns with what you have posted is in the words "earlier this year" as these issues are time related to 6 months in an Employment Tribunal. When exactly were they sacked as that is the date when the tribunal time starts. Next if you are in time you need to start proceedings asap and hopefully your M & D have access to legal advice eg union or legal protection insurance. Best you look at Home contents policies etc.

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I disagree slightly with the post above I'm afraid. Serious a this event was, it is highly unlikely that it would be a case of discrimination as defined by the DDA. For this event to have been covered by the DDA, the condition would have to have been a serious and long-term condition prior to the heart attack itself, and the employer would have to have been aware of the condition in order to make allowances and adjustments. From what you have said this was a sudden onset incident.

 

What you would seem to have here is disgraceful behaviour on the part of the employer, but in terms of what your mother and stepfather can do will, I believe, lie in the nature of the contract that they were working under, so it becomes far more complex than a case of discrimination. Were they employees or tenants? Were they working under a contract of employment? How long had they been employed for? What was in the contract relating to sickness absence? Were they responsible for staffing the establishment? These are all factors.

 

A more likely area to explore would be that if an employee, your stepfather would have a legal right to time off for the care of dependants, and dismissal for asserting that right could make that dismissal automatically unfair. As previously stated though, except in certain circumstances, remedy through an Employment Tribunal is subject to strict time limits (3 months which may be extended to 6 months).

 

As you will probably already have gathered, this would be a complicated matter and it is unlikely that there is a simple answer, so legal advice if you still feel that there is a case would be a must.

 

I do feel sorry for your family though - this sounds absolutely appalling, and whatever the outcome they have my sympathy.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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Sidewinder..... I agree with you when you say it is a complicated matter and caled fwich should take legal advice and to do so quickly. Under the DDA the condition is also covered if the disability is likely to last 12 month or more into the future too. So I am supposing that a sudden and severe heart attack could well have been covered as the recovery from such a serious condition could in fact affect the rest of your life. It is reasonable to suppose that the husband of a disabled person would become a carer and therefore going to assistance could be viewed as related to a discrimination should it occur.

 

The threatening statement of the employer and subsequent action in my view could also be victimisation as a dismissal could well be subject to proceedings in the ET and the action to dismiss just crystalises it.

 

In any event the timing is very unclear and proper legal advice advised.

 

I hope your Mum is recovering well.

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