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Britain’s Got Tribunal

15 June 2010

This article highlights the importance of making reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities in the workplace.

Britain’s Got Talent; a televised competition watched by millions and featuring thousands of contestants, all hoping to fulfil their dreams of being a star and perform in front of Her Royal Highness at the Royal Variety Show. Unlike talent shows in the past, which mainly focus on finding the ultimate pop singer or band, Britain’s Got Talent is aimed at anybody and everybody who feels that they have a gift in music, dance, gymnastics, dog training, knife-swallowing or various other unsavoury abilities. However, the show and its creator, Simon Cowell, have also been criticised for putting vulnerable people in the spot-light and often ridiculing those who lack the experience of showbiz that enables them to cope with mass-media attention. You may remember Susan Boyle back in 2009, who allegedly suffered a breakdown backstage during the show’s finals; or 11-year-old Hollie Steel, who was so overwhelmed by the experience and nervousness that she was left in tears during her performance. More recently, a former contestant has put forward a case to an employment tribunal against Simon Cowell, after claiming that she suffered unlawful discrimination. According to an article published earlier this week by the BBC (2010), Ms Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai, who suffers from cervical spine neuritis, says that the environment the producers put her in made her feel unfairly treated and aggravated her condition. Ms Czikai claims that she was left to wait in the cold backstage and felt so aggrieved, that she asked producers of the show to not show her footage. They ignored her request. Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, “a person has a disability if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial or long-term effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Some examples of impairment include: sensory impairments; progressive illnesses (such as MS); developmental conditions (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia) and learning difficulties. Disability discrimination can occur in two ways: 1. If you treat a disabled person less favourably than you would treat others for a reason related to that person’s disability, without justification. 2. If you fail to comply with your duty to make all, reasonable adjustments to accommodate the disabled person. Our employment law training seminars provide guidance to employers on how to avoid being taken to tribunal. These include a discussion of the reasonable adjustments you can take to accommodate a disabled employee. Examples of reasonable adjustments include: allocation of duties that may exacerbate the employee’s condition to someone else; alteration of working hours; putting specialised equipment in place to assist a disabled employee and allowing time off for treatment (this includes counselling). If you find yourself in a situation whereby you want to accommodate an employee who is less-able, Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in the practical application of employment law as well as providing employment law training and HR support services. For more information, visit our website at Russell HR Consulting offers HR services to businesses nationwide, including Buckinghamshire (covering Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Banbury, Northampton, Towcester and surrounding areas), Nottinghamshire (covering Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and surrounding areas) and Hampshire (covering Aldershot, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough, Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton and surrounding areas).

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