That’s hard to say as I’m not a lawyer but if you only had informal adjustments in place and there was no record of how you approached this it would be hard to argue your case. Even organisations that you’d expect to do this well get it wrong sometimes. If we’re talking about employment tribunals these are usually brought when an employee feels they have been wrongly dismissed. These tribunals are often lost in relation to disability if you as an employer terminated a contract based on performance without making the necessary adjustments. Here are a few cases that highlight how costly losing a case can be. In almost all of these cases an employer had terminated a contract and was found “to have failed in their duty to make reasonable adjustments”.
- £4.7M AB vs. NatWest (Royal Bank of Scotland)
- £2.5M Barrow vs. Kellog Brown & Root (UK) Ltd
- £1.2M Gallop vs. Newport City Council
- £400,000 Hill vs. Blackberry (Research in motion)
- £250,000 Fox vs. Jaguar Land Rover
- £200,000 Horler vs. South Wales Police Service
The numbers are pretty eye-watering. I’ve highlighted some of the bigger payouts but, even if you are found not to have done anything wrong, the entire process of going through an employment tribunal is going to cost your organisation, financially and in terms of performance. The line manager(s) and HR team involved in the case will be both distracted and stressed. The employee who left will not have a positive relationship with your organisation and this may impact your reputation. Your HR team and line managers may become overly protective, trying to avoid legal cases, and may be less empathetic in their conversations with their team. Even worse, it may lead to a reluctance to employ disabled employees which means, once again, you’re potentially missing out on your next star player.