SIPTU says it has legal means to end workplace discrimination against disabled people

SIPTU representatives have marked International Disability Awareness Day (Sunday, 12th September) to remind workers of the strong legal protections that have been secured to prevent discrimination in the workplace, due to a worker’s permanent or temporary disability.

SIPTU Workers Rights Centre Sector Organiser, Paul Henry, said: “Over recent years SIPTU members have won a number of significant victories in the courts that make it clear that workers cannot be discriminated against in the workplace due to either a permanent or temporary disability.

“In July 2019, the union won a significant case in the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of a SIPTU member employed at the Nano Nagle School in Killarney, county Kerry. The Court ruled that the school had breached equality legislation by failing to consult with her before it refused to allow her continue in her role as a Special Needs Assistant after she incurred a disability following an accident.

“In its decision the Supreme Court stated the issues in that case were ‘undoubtedly, of significant importance, not only to the appellant, but in the broader field of disability law’.”

He added: “This year, the Workplace Relations Commission ruled that the HSE must prepare guidelines and training for its line managers on its ‘reasonable accommodation’ obligations to employees in emergency services.

“This was part of a decision to award an ambulance paramedic, €65,000 for disability discrimination, due to the treatment she had received following an injury which had left her with a temporary disability.”

He added: “These two rulings, and others achieved for our members, indicate that those with a disability do not have to accept any form of discrimination in the workplace. We would encourage all people who feel they are facing discrimination in their workplace to contact their union so their rights can be legally asserted.”

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