Will Brexit Change Employment Law Rights?

Now that everybody has finally gotten over the shock of Britain choosing to leave the EU, the government can begin the process of evaluating, and if necessary reordering, elements of UK employment law across various working sectors.

But what exactly can employers and employees expect to see changed? Will anything actually be altered?

David Davis, the B Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has hinted that no radical changes will be taken. Posting his views on the Conservative Home website, he states: “All the empirical studies show that it is not employment regulation that stultifies economic growth, but all the other market-related regulations, many of them wholly unnecessary”.

However, a Britain now free of EU regulations has a huge number of opportunities available that will surely at least be considered. Read on for an insightful, although admittedly speculative, assessment of what the consequences of Brexit could be for UK employment.

Abolishing EU law
The remain campaign was insistent that many of the employment benefits we currently enjoy were implemented by the EU. However, a quick review of this claim shows that much of the existing legislation was actually formed via British courts, much of it in accordance with The Equality Act 2010.

Any effort to dismantle these existing laws would be difficult to undertake due to the unrest it may cause if the expectations that workers are accustomed to get removed. The government will not want to make any disturbances that pose a threat to the current unity of UK employment law.

Before Brexit, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested that there would be a “bonfire of rights” if Britain left the EU. For example, can you imagine how unpopular the government would be if the current employment legislation relating to constructive dismissal, discrimination rights and working time regulations were altered?

Not making major changes to existing law also means there will likely not be no major break from the guidelines presented by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and European Court of Justice (ECJ), thereby quietly re-enforcing certain aspects of EU employment law regardless of the freedom Brexit brings.

Rather than change existing laws, it is just far more likely that any new EU legislation passed in Brussels will find much less support for implementation into British law and be judged more sharply.

Curbing immigration
A large reason for the Brexit vote was concern over immigration, and removing the EU Freedom Of Movement law will certainly create major changes for UK employment practices.

Business owners must be aware of the forthcoming new rules for hiring migrants and what the consequences will be for not following them. Those EU workers already in Britain are likely to be granted permission to stay, but hiring new EU employees will probably soon reflect the legislation familiar with non-EU countries, such as the point-based migration system used in Australia.

Holiday allowance
One area of employment law that is likely to undergo alteration is holiday allowance. The allowance that UK workers currently enjoy is a result of the EU Working Time Directive; legislation that clearly details the holidays an employee is entitled to in accordance with their contract. However, industry personnel are expecting considerable alteration to this area of law, and Frances O’Grady of the Trade Union Congress recently stated that the six million Trade Union members whose employment corresponds specifically with the Working Time Directive will be heavily affected.

The most probable changes to holiday allowance will involve the means by how holiday pay is calculated, and the various controversies that surround the 48-hour working week. Although, the extent of these changes are unlikely to be large. David Davis has noted the unfairness that swift changes could cause: “The great British industrial working classes voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. I am not at all attracted by the idea of rewarding them by cutting their rights.”

Transfer of undertakings
One area of employment law that has proved unpopular with UK businesses is the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, commonly known as TUPE.

Since TUPE was first introduced in 1981, it has been the primary legislation to protect worker rights in situations where there has been a transfer of undertakings or service provision alteration, as outlined in the agreement of their contract,

Brexit may prove to be the perfect opportunity for the government to alter TUPE, but such changes will likely be made gradually to avoid employee upset. Because TUPE plays a strong role in protecting workers, Unions must also be vigilant when challenges by big businesses appear. David Davis has noted that “Britain has a relatively flexible workforce, and so long as the employment law environment stays reasonably stable it should not be a problem for business.”

Exactly when employment law changes will take effect is unclear, but Theresa May has spoken about of her intention to wait for the government to agree better trade deals before Article 50, the official name given to the formal notice of leaving the EU, is implemented.

Sex Discrimination Win For Male Police Officer

Workplace harassment and gender discrimination most often affects women, but as one recent case involving the Metropolitan police department shows, men are sometimes also on the receiving end of this.

An employment tribunal ruling concluded that Chief Inspector Adrian Denby of Paddington Green Station, London, suffered sex discrimination on five occasions since 2014 at the hands of a female superior officer who was leading a nationwide effort to crack down on masculine behaviour within the force, to thus make the force “more attractive” to female staff. In recent years there have been a number of high profile cases involving alleged patriarchal control within the MET, which has harmed the equality ethos of the force.

Denby was first discriminated against in September 2014 when Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Maxine De Brunner, visited the Territorial Support Group (TSG) that Denby was responsible for managing at Paddington Green station, London. On this occasion De Brunner witnessed a male officer walking from the shower facilities wearing only a towel. Behaviour of this kind has been described as her ‘pet hate’ because it has been proven to of alienated and offended female staff in the past.

Denby faced an internal and criminal investigation over the incident, along with accusations of his improper behaviour regarding a range of other incidents, including unsubstantiated claims of him selling alcohol at the station, allowing staff to openly make homophobic comments, and ‘cheating hours’ by claiming overtime he had not performed. These accusations were made particularly difficult for Denby as his female counterpart at TSG saw no equivalent action get taken against her.

Not only did this treatment result in Denby feeling like a scapegoat for the supposed cultural failings of the TSG, but also caused distress because De Brunner had not considered the numerous improvements that he had personally made to the TSG throughout his employment.

Denby agreed that he should have not allowed male staff to walk semi-naked from the shower, but claims his decision to allow this was due only to the ‘poor design’ of the station’s showers.

Denby’s concerns proved justified, as the tribunal found him to be an “impressive and straightforward witness” who suffered from a clear case of sex discrimination. In contrast, De Brunner’s testimony was considered “not credible”.

The tribunal also took note of Denby’s outstanding past achievements as evidence of his good character, including his being awarded nine commendations, and how he recently travelled to Afghanistan to contribute to the creation of the Afghan police force.

Across the UK, a total of 62 sex discrimination claims have been made by men over the past five years, and this is only the seventh case to have actually won. However, despite Officer Denby’s success, a spokesman for the Met has stated that the police force now intends to fully appeal the tribunal decision: “We have carefully considered the judgement [and] have sought leave to appeal the findings.”

A damages hearing for Officer Denby is currently planned for October.

New Report Highlights UK Pregnancy Discrimination

A recently survey produced by the Equity and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) shows a startling number of young women are experiencing workplace discrimination over issues relating to pregnancy and maternity.

The EHRC report also reveals how women are six times more likely to be dismissed from their job if they are pregnant, and that 6% of women blow the age of 25 will suffer discrimination from an employer. This is a major contrast to the estimated 1% of mothers from older age groups who are likely to experience discrimination. 15% of the younger mothers polled for the survey claim they were pressured into resigning from their role, a figure that contrasts with the 7% of older women who felt the same. In total, every year pregnancy discrimination forces 54,000 women from their jobs.

EHRC official Caroline Water has commented on the findings: “Young working mothers are feeling the brunt of pregnancy and maternity discrimination with more than any other age group being forced out of their jobs, facing harassment and experiencing issues with their health as a result.”

Further issues explored in the report show how many young women are unaware of their rights regarding discrimination in the workplace. This is particularly true of women in less stable employment positions that are of a lower wage, as they are less likely to confront an employer and speak out legally regarding their grievance, largely out of fear of experiencing employer retaliation. This is especially true of service based employment sectors such as childcare, which are industries that require hundreds of thousands of UK women to work to zero hours contracts.

The impact of pregnancy discrimination on younger women, who are yet to reach their full potential in the workplace is that they feel they have no choice but to make choose between starting a family and having a career; a decision amplified by the lack of trade union representatives available in these career industries.

The EHRC is already searching for solutions to correct these issues, and has launched a campaign to encourage pregnant women to speak out regarding their rights. Employers are also being encouraged to assist in this effort by ensuring that women have a safe and comfortable environment in which they can speak.

Ms Water of the EHRC has spoken of the necessity in creating such an atmosphere for working mothers: “We cannot continue to allow these young women to be unfairly held back in the starting blocks of their working lives when they could have the potential to achieve greatness”.

Since July 2013, UK employment tribunals require fee payments by claimants, even if their claim proves not to be successful. This makes bringing a case to tribunal very difficult for young women and it is made worse by the current law requiring all cases to be submitted within three months of the grievance suffered, which is a short time period for a woman to make while simultaneously preparing for the lifestyle adjustment that motherhood brings. The lack of tribunal support for young mothers is evidenced by the less than 1% of pregnancy discrimination claims being brought before an employment tribunal.

The tribunal fee of 2013 was intended to reduce false claims from being launched but has ultimately had the negative consequence of denying many genuine cases from being heard.

The Scottish government plans to remove tribunal fees in the near future; a move made possible thanks to Scottish parliament being given greater power in accordance with the Scotland Act 2016. Once this legal change is made, Scottish women will be legally empowered to confront maternity and pregnancy dissociation on a far greater degree scale, which may inspire the other UK countries to follow suit.

Office Temp Stands Up To Dress Code “Discrimination”

A controversy in the workplace emerged recently as a London office temp was sent home from work when she refused to wear high heels in an office. Nicola Thorpe, 27, was informed by her bosses at Central London finance business, PwC, that she is expected to wear shoes with a heel measuring 2 to 4 inches. She attended work that day wearing flat shoes and declined to wear heels on grounds that her male colleagues are not expected to do the same.

Ms Thorpe complained that heels would cause her discomfort when working a full day’s shift and asked whether the flat shoes she is accustomed to wearing in UK offices could be an alternative option, but she was sent home without pay and told she would have to come back with high heels before being suitable for work. In an interview with BBC Radio, she explained: ‘if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough’, but they couldn’t […] I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said ‘I just won’t be able to do that in heels”.

When Ms Thorpe took to Facebook to voice her concern, she quickly discovered that many other women had experienced similar treatment in the workplace; treatment that could be classed as a form of discrimination. Such an occasion often goes unreported as many women are not comfortable voicing their concern to their peers in what is often a male dominated environment and as a result suffer in silence.
Ms Thorpe believes her experience has sexist connotations: “Aside from the debilitating factor, it’s the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn’t be forcing that on their female employees.” This belief is supported by Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, who says the situation at PwC “reeks of sexism” and said in a statement that “high heels should be a choice, not a requirement”.

Ms Thorpe has created an online petition to abolish the mandatory high heel dress code for women for which she has received upwards of 10,000 signatures thus far. Detailing her experience, she revealed: “I was a bit scared about speaking up about it in case there was a negative backlash, but I realised I needed to put a voice to this as it is a much bigger issue.”

Simon Pratt is the managing director of Portico, the firm that runs PwC. He has provided an explanation for the dress policy in place at PwC, claiming it is standard practice within the service sector to maintain guidelines for employee appearance in order to “positively represent a client’s brand and image”. Mr Pratt also detailed how Ms Thorp had signed the appearance guidelines when she originally began employment with PwC and did not object to the agreed code. Although, it now seems Portico are at least acknowledging that Ms Thorpe has raised some relevant issues as the company is now reconsidering its footwear rules and reviewing existing guidelines.

This situation has provoked much interest in the world of employment law, as it raises questions regarding the legality of whether employees, male or female, should be expected to follow such rigid dress codes at the expense of their personal comfort.

Current UK law allows for employers to dismiss any employee who does not abide by a “reasonable” dress code, on condition that each employee is given a fair amount of time to make arrangements for doing so. Employers also have the legal right to judge what they deem appropriate attire independently of any fixed criteria. Although, UK law states that an “equivalent level of smartness” must be ensured for equality between men and women.

Another important question that Ms Thorpe’s situation has provoked is whether a woman has the right to sue her employer if she feels an employment dress code has discriminated against her. A successful case will be much easier to win if it can be proven that the employer expects women to dress a certain way in a bid to evoke a notion of femininity, rather than creating an intended brand image for the business. Although this too could prove difficult depending on the nature of the business.

It is worth noting though that a legal case against an employer could be possible on health related grounds, as the daily wear of high heels can lead to foot injuries, and the long term affects may result in serious consequences like arthritis and nerve damage.

Emma Supple is a podiatrist at the College of Podiatry, and has been a vocal supporter for abolishing mandatory heels for women in the workplace due to the potential health detriment is causes . In 2009, she voiced her concerns at the House of Commons and noted that her speech “really opened some eyes to the issue”. Her efforts subsequently led to a 2009 TUC motion that women should not be forced to wear heels at work. However, this is yet to prevent businesses from instructing employees to do so if it constitutes supporting a brand image.

The assertion that an employee’s health and comfort takes precedence over expectations of image is certainly reflected by Ms Thorpe’s experience. She feels existing expectations of office dress codes for women need re-evaluating: “I don’t hold anything against the company necessarily because they are acting within their rights as employers to have a formal dress code, [but] women can be smart and formal and wear flat shoes”.

Gay Discrimination Ruling Challenged by Christian Bakery

In a case important for illustrating the legal consequences of how the personal belief of business proprietors can result in accusations of discrimination against customers, a court has heard how the proprietors of a Northern-Irish bakery have appealed a 2015 court ruling that they discriminated against a customer’s sexuality.

Gay rights activist, Gareth Lee, claims he was refused the right to purchase a custom-made cake featuring the words ‘Support Gay Marriage’ with an accompanying image of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie due to the Christian sentiment of the shop owners. The cake was intended for enjoyment at a private function in celebration of International Day Against Homophobia.

Mr Lee, a member of the gay charity Queer Space, took offence to the refusal at Ashers Bakery and subsequently took the business to court on grounds that they violated his human rights via direct discriminating against his sexual orientation.

He won his case in 2015 and received £500 in damages from the MacArthur family who run Ashers Bakery. However, the ruling was not without controversy as many legal observers felt the MacArthur family have the right of religious freedom and were thus were merely affirming the Christian teachings of homosexuality they follow, despite the bakery not having a clear Christian appearance or tone.

Ashers are appealing the ruling on grounds that their reaction to the request does not constitute discrimination as they insist the refusal was not made directly as a result of Mr Lee’s sexuality. They assert that he had been a customer on several previous occasions without any hint of prejudice projected towards him by the bakery, although there is some uncertainty as to whether the bakery was aware of Mr Lee’s sexuality prior to his order of the cake.

Ashers also insist the refusal related to the actual content of the cake’s message rather than a reaction against Mr Lee’s sexuality, and as such there is no legal reason that it is their duty to supply him with a product bearing such a message.

The MacArthur family further rejects the earlier ruling with claims that their actions do not count as discrimination against Mr Lee because a heterosexual man seeking a cake with a gay slogan would also have been refused the such a purchase, but due to the law only covering harm experienced by an individual, the possibility of the MacArthurs not providing a cake of this kind to all people was not considered by the court.

The court ruling will made at an as of yet unscheduled date.

Tribunal success for police officer facing racial discrimination

A British-Asian police officer who specialised in anti-terror activities has won a tribunal claim against Kent police force on grounds that he was racially discriminated against by being overlooked for a job promotion.

Angus Bowler was an officer at Kent Police for 25 years, during which time he specialised in counter terrorism activities and anti-immigration duties under employment with the frontier branch. At the time he suffered detriment he was working near the Channel Tunnel station in Coquelles, France, where he had been living with his family since 2010.

After not being considered for the promotion he was worthy of, PC Bowler expressed his concerns about the seemingly unreasonable snub to relevant personnel at Kent police but found the resulting internal investigation on the issue to be unsatisfactory. Following his disclosure PC Bowler claims he became a target of bullying and discrimination.

The employment tribunal in Ashford ruled that after considering further information about internal police conduct, PC Bowler had indeed experienced further discrimination. This includes his personal performance review results being lowered and his freedom to make visits to his French officer peers abruptly curtailed despite no same restriction being enforced upon his white British colleagues.

Internal responsibility for assessing PC Bowler’s claim belonged to DCI Andy Somerville, who told him there was no grounds for a claim, which DCI Somerville repeated when cross examined at tribunal. He supported his assertion by referencing what he called the “race relations act”, which is believed to be in reference to the 2010 Equality Act.

DCI Somerville said he found the legislation of the Equality Act ‘convoluted’ and chose instead to understand the law more intensely by consulting the definition of racism via an Oxford English dictionary. After sharing the definition with other officers, it was the unanimous opinion of all officers that they had not behaved in a discriminatory manner towards PC Bowler.

Speaking at the Tribunal in April 2016, PC Bowler revealed the depth of his sufferance: “Having dedicated more than 25 years to the police force, it was shocking and crushing to find that I was treated differently because of the colour of my skin. This case has caused me and my family a great deal of turmoil and upheaval, but I am relieved to finally be able to put this ordeal behind me and move on.”

In a statement, a Kent policeman responded to the tribunal ruling: “Kent police was legally represented at the hearing and acknowledges the decision of the employment tribunal. A date for a remedies hearing is yet to be confirmed.”

Official NHS Whistleblowing Policy Introduced

The NHS Improvement organisation, which oversees the performance of NHS establishments across the UK, has published its highly anticipated final draft of an official whistleblowing policy report that the entire NHS must enforce prior to 31st March 2017.

It was agreed last November there should be one set of rules regarding whistleblowing for use across the entire NHS. This long overdue decision was the result of the Freedom to Speak report compiled last year by Robert Francis QC, who concluded there need to be disclosure rules in place due to the high number of whistleblowing cases occurring within the NHS. Now after months of feedback from industry personnel, the final report is ready.

In order to protect the interests of both its staff and patients, this new policy has to be followed throughout the NHS without exception. Complaints under particular scrutiny are those that involve poor working facilities and environments that create harmful conditions for patient care.

The report recognises that the vast scope of NHS affiliated organisations across Britain means there will need to be different methods of implementing these rules, therefore there is room for some minor alterations separate to the written law, from which individual establishments can deviate somewhat while still following the core requirements of the national rule.

The report also highlights which NHS staff members should be contacted if an employee does decide to make a disclosure. In such a case, an organisation’s ‘whistleblowing guardian’, a new employment position required by law, must be consulted prior to any third party official being contacted. This is necessary to ensure correct protocol is observed while the best interests of the whistleblower are catered for.

The report’s intention is not to prevent outside interference and potentially damaging information from becoming public knowledge, but to instead benefit whistleblowers by ensuring a non-threatening atmosphere exists in which they can feel relaxed and confident.

Danny Mortimer, the Chief executive of NHS Employers, has explained the organisation’s position:

“Employers are committed to ensuring that every member of staff feel able to raise any concerns and know that appropriate action will be taken. We are also pleased to see that employers can incorporate their local processes into this national standard policy – employers will now want to review the documentation in partnership with their local staff representatives and agree the best way to engage and communicate with staff”.

Once an investigation begins, the first step involved is for the matter to be judged by the line manager of the organisation involved. Should this complaint be dismissed, the employee can then take action via an unbiased third party source; namely an independent professional with the necessary legal expertise to deal with the matter. However, the line manager of the organisation will try their hardest to ensure such a step is not taken as whistleblowing will henceforth be treated with the highest concern across the NHS.

The Employment Law Changes of 2016

April 2016 will see a number of new changes occurring across UK employment law that employers and employees alike must adapt to. Each year workers get caught off guard by the alterations that are suddenly a UK legal requirement. Read on for an overview of the key changes we should all be prepared for.

Introducing the National Living Wage
Perhaps the change that has received the most attention over the past year is the introduction of a new National Living Wage by which workers aged 25 and over are entitled to a minimum hourly wage of £7.20.

Employers have to ensure all employees are paid in accordance with this arrangement, including temporary workers, part-time workers and those on zero-hours contracts. This policy begins from 1st April 2016.

The New State Pension Scheme
On 6 April 2016, the UK will have a new state pension that will replace all previous kinds of governmental pension available.

This change alterations will include alterations to all existing employer-provided pension schemes, which will no longer grant employers the right to contract-out state pensions with the promise of receiving a nationally insured rebate later. So in a scenario where an employer once offered a contracted-out scheme, there will now be greater liability placed on the national insurance contribution made by both employer and employee.

All employees must be made fully aware of the numerous effects such a new pension scheme can have on their wages, along with details of the many other complex issues it raises.

New Penalties for Employers Not Paying National Minimum Wage.
The penalty against employers failing to pay the new national minimum wage to their employees will increase by 100% starting 1st April, with the penalty for doing so potentially being as high as £20,000 per worker.

However, employers can halve the final cost of the penalty if they arrange the necessary payment within fourteen days of the issue date.

No national insurance contributions for apprentices below 25
For years the government has been pushing employers to establish more apprenticeships for workers aged under 25, so in order to speed up this process it has been announced that it will no longer be necessary for employers to pay national insurance contributions to apprentices under the 25 age bracket; a policy that will begin April 6th 2016.

New salary requirements for Tier 2 Workers
Employers who hire foreign workers under tier 2 of the immigration points system will have to pay these workers a minimum salary of £35,000 from 6th April in accordance with what is considered a fair wage for their skills and contribution to the UK workplace.

Penalties for Refusing To Pay Tribunal Awards
In reaction a 2013 study revealed that below half of UK claimants awarded a payout at an employment tribunal were actually receiving less than the granted sum. To assist the likelihood that the amount will be paid the government has decided an additional penalty will be given to employers failing to pay the complete amount. This fine will reflect half the amount that was set an the tribunal but can potentially be reduced if payment is prompt.

Exit Payments For Employees Rejoining The Public-Sector
There are also plans to create a fee that higher earning public-sector employees will have to pay if they leave their position within the public-sector and then return to public service within a year of their departure.

The Brexit & UK Employment Law

If the UK leaves the European Union (EU) after the June 23rd referendum many workers will be left wondering how the change will affect laws associated with the UK workplace.
EU law supports a large part of British employment legislation, such as discrimination rights, working hours and the maternity rights granted to both women and men.

If Britain does leave the EU the government will be legally entitled to establish new laws independently of Europe, along with possessing the right to remove and strengthen the existing ones. This would be possible as Britain will no longer have to abide by the rules of the European Court of Justice.

What Changes Could The Brexit Create?
Despite the right to make changes becoming an instantly possibility for the UK government, it is however not likely that major alterations will immediately be instituted as a sudden shift from existing laws would contradict legal entitlements that UK workers are used to.

Such immediate change could interrupt benefits the average Briton has become accustomed to and thus lead to worker discord and public protest. Losses that could be made include the strong holiday pay legislation that was founded under EU law. It is far more likely that legal alterations would be made gradually and slightly due to negotiations in UK Parliament.

It’s also important to note that certain laws will almost certainly remain as they are due to them already being part of British legislation prior to Britain joining the EU. In other areas of law, Britain has actually gone beyond what has been required by EU legislation, such as introducing paternal leave rights so fathers have the opportunity to share maternity benefits with their partner. British legal progression of this nature is very unlikely to be altered as a result of the nation leaving the EU.

So Business As Usual Then?
Although it will certainly take a period of evaluation before the UK can map out a complete legal strategy for the future, it’s entirely possible that any eventual outcome might still rely on continuing European legislation unless the country elects to end its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). If Britain does not leave the EEA certain aspects of EU employment law that will inevitably be kept. However, should this agreement be ended Britain will only need to behave in line with laws dictated by the World Trade Organisation instead of the EU.

In order to satisfy both UK workers and EU member states it is likely Britain will enter into a new series of laws that appease all trading partners in a way that will not give the UK an unfair trading advantages and thus not alienate EU nations or global trading partners.

What About Freedom of Employee Travel?
A founding aspect of EU employment law is for workers across the continent to possess the right to travel between EU states. One right involved with this law is that permanent residence in another EU country can be achieved as long as a worker has been employed for five or more years in that nation.

EU travel rights will be brought into question in the result of a Brexit and will subsequently limit international employment for UK citizens while restricting UK businesses from hiring foreign workers. Such legislation already has outspoken political voices speaking both for and against this action.

Of all the alterations that politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate argue for, employment legislation has generally not been a point of focus so far, although this could easily change in the near future.

Do you feel strongly about making changes to UK employment law?

Disability Discrimination Win For Starbucks Employee

A woman with dyslexia has won an employment tribunal case on grounds that she suffered disability discrimination at the hands of her former employer, US coffee corporation Starbucks, which claimed she committed fraud by falsifying documents.

Ms Meseret Kumulchew won her tribunal case this past December after it was ruled she was discriminated against when her employer ignored her insistence that she had just made a mistake by accidentally entering incorrect information during her duties as branch supervisor as a result of her condition. She was subsequently made to perform lesser duties and expected to retrain for her role.

Ms Kumulchew worked at the Clapham, South-West branch of Starbucks where her work involved recording the temperature of fridges and water at specific times of the day. It was during this task that she made a mistake and was later accused of intentionally entering false information; an act of fraud according to Starbucks officials.

The company was aware of Ms Kumulchew’s disability and she strong asserts that the company never made any effort to develop her skills so as to support her struggle. Ms Kumulchew frequently made contact with her superiors to inform them of her situation. One message she sent read:

‘I’ll struggle, but don’t worry, help me and I’ll get there in my own time. I’m not going to affect your business, because for every customer I’ll roll out the red carpet. I love my job. Giving them a coffee may not be a big deal, but I’m making their life, for the day at least, happy.”

Starbucks were ruled to have not trained Ms Kumulchew in such a way that she received satisfactory support and had therefore behaved in a discriminatory way with no regard for her well-being or performance. This attitude was also found to be a direct contradiction of Starbucks’ equality principals.

The effect of the fraud accusation deeply harmed Ms Kumulchew. In an interview following the verdict she expressed her hurt: “The name fraud itself shouldn’t exist for me. It’s quite serious. I nearly ended my life. But I had to think of my kids. I know I’m not a fraud. I just made a mistake.”

Dr Kate Saunders of the British Dyslexia Association has released a statement on the issue of dyslexia discrimination: “One in 10 people has dyslexia to some degree. Many people will not know they have dyslexia because it wasn’t identified at school. Many dyslexics are struggling in the work place with very high levels of anxiety because employers do not have the training or the awareness to make adjustments for them.”

Reacting to the ruling, Starbucks too issued a statement to clarify their current position: “We are in ongoing discussions with this Starbucks employee around specific workplace support and we are not able to comment on a case that has not yet been completed.”

Another tribunal hearing will now be scheduled in order to assess whether Ms Kumulchew is entitled to compensation for her sufferance.