The internet has backed an employer for challenging their bosses who allegedly asked them to fire a disabled employee on the basis that she’s not able to work from the office.
In the post shared on Tuesday to Mumsnet, the employer, who goes by the name Whatnextteletext, explained that their company hired the disabled employee at the beginning of the pandemic while everyone was working from home.
The user continued in the post, which has so far received over 500 comments, saying that the terms of her contract did not state a specific workplace.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a disability, which was at 10.1 percent in 2021, decreased by 2.5 percentage points from the previous year but remains higher than in 2019, which was 7.3 percent.
The employer also explained that the disabled employee started at an entry level position and they’ve had to invest a lot of time and resources into her training and since she’s very good at her job, it would mean that all the efforts and money gone into the training would be wasted.
“Today I had an email from the senior team asking why this employee hadn’t been back to the office so I explained that she’ll be working from home forever given the circumstances (that they’re very aware of!) and the reply I got was that she’s no longer suitable for the role now that the expectation is work from the office and I needed to let her go,” the post read.
After receiving the email, the employer raised the issue to HR, who according to the poster, are still to answer. The user went so far as to say that if they are forced to fire her, they will resign on the spot.
The majority of the comments on the thread backed the employer and praised them for their decision to fight for their disabled employee’s basic right to work.
RandomMess commented: “So glad you are fighting her corner instead of her having to do it alone!”
Another user, thenewduchessoflapland said: “They offered people a wfh job on the understanding it would be permanent and now want to fire someone because they’ve changed their mind on wfh roles and that person is disabled and cannot work outside of the home? Your employer is going to [be] liable for a very embarrassing case of unfair dismissal against them and a huge payout.”
While most people expressed their outrage at the management’s decision, others gave the employer advice on how to deal with the issue. ZealAndArdour said: “I’m assuming she’s declared her disability formally during the hiring process? Doesn’t sound like your employer has got a leg to stand on, tbh. They’d need to be able to demonstrate that in person attendance was absolutely essential to the role in order to enforce this change of heart, which clearly it isn’t.”
Other users advised the employer to seek more external help, with many suggesting the poster contact ACAS, a non-departmental public body that gives employees and employers free and impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice in the U.K.
MajorCarolDanvers said: “I would strongly advise you speak to ACAS. You can also be held personally liable as well as your employer. Legally she has full rights now despite her length of service because she has a protected characteristic—her disability. Dismiss her on these grounds and she has a case for discrimination and unfair dismiss.”
Soupmaker wrote: “I work as a trade union official. Don’t rely on HR stopping the management being absolute arseholes. If you and your colleague are not trade union members get joined up ASAP. ACAS can give advice but cannot advocate or represent either of you if your employer decides to take action. Good luck, give them hell.”