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Leading Welsh Lawyer Warns Firms against Dyslexia Discrimination

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A leading Welsh lawyer is today warning firms of possible discrimination cases if they do not make reasonable adjustments for employees with dyslexia.

Damian Phillips, Partner at leading Wales commercial law firm Darwin Gray LLP in Cardiff, is highlighting the issue after it was this week announced that a woman with dyslexia has won a disability discrimination case against her employer after she was accused of falsifying documents.

Meseret Kumulchew claims that her employer Starbucks discriminated against her after she made mistakes when taking the temperature of fridges and water, leading to inaccurate figures being recorded.   She was demoted and told to re-train.

Ms Kumulchew took Starbucks to an employment tribunal claiming disability discrimination, saying that her employers had known about her dyslexia and should have taken this in to account when dealing with the issue.

Damian said:

“Employers should be aware that reasonable adjustments must be made for employees who have dyslexia that amounts to a disability, such as giving instructions verbally rather than in writing, providing a quiet working environment, and allowing recording devices for meetings.

“By creating a dyslexia friendly workplace, employers are more likely to reduce stress, staff turnover and sick leave of the workforce, as well as improving motivation and loyalty.  Many employees may otherwise try to hide their condition.

“It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a current or prospective employee because of disability, which this case highlights, could include dyslexia. If a person with a disability feels they have been discriminated against they may want to take their case to an Employment Tribunal. If they win the case, they may be able to claim for financial loss and damages for injuries to feelings.”

The tribunal ultimately that found Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Ms Kumulchew’s disability and had discriminated against her because of the effects of her dyslexia.

For further information, see: www.darwingray.com