Starbucks brews disability discrimination storm - Palmers Solicitors

Starbucks brews disability discrimination storm

Starbucks brews disability discrimination storm

A Starbucks employee has won a disability discrimination case after she was wrongly accused of falsifying documents, when she had simply misread numbers she was responsible for recording.

Campaigners for employee rights say this is a landmark ruling which highlights the duty of all employers to make allowances for staff with dyslexia.

In December, an employment tribunal found that Starbucks had victimised Meseret Kumulchew after she inaccurately recorded the water and fridge temperatures as part of her duties as a supervisor at Starbucks in Clapham, south-west London.

The tribunal heard that Starbucks accused Ms Kumulchew of falsifying the recordings, reduced her responsibilities and ordered her to retrain.

A separate hearing, to determine how much compensation Starbucks should pay, will be held in the next few weeks.

Ms Kumulchew, who is still employed by Starbucks, said she had made her bosses aware of her dyslexia, and the accusation of falsifying numbers had made her want to take her own life.

The tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Ms Kumulchew’s reading difficulties under the 2010 Equality Act, which replaced the Disability Act. It said the company showed little or no understanding of equality issues.

The legislation is vague on whether dyslexia, a condition that affects one in ten people, constitutes a disability. It defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on … normal day-to-day activities”. It goes on to suggest that under stressful conditions people with dyslexia can be seen to suffer such an impairment.

Lara Murray, an employment law specialist with Palmers said: “All organisations must make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities, including dyslexia, under the Equality Act 2010. They should have appropriate policies in place and make sure these avoid discrimination, including in the recruitment process, the work environment and colleague reactions.

“As this case demonstrates, workers who feel they are being unfairly treated and discriminated against do not need to suffer in silence. There is help and legal redress available.

“At Palmers, we understand that paying for legal advice may be a concern so we offer cost-effective fixed fee interviews and many people find that legal expenses cover for employment disputes is also included in their household or car insurance policy.”

For more information, please contact our Employment Law team.