Disabled man wins case against firm

A DISABLED man who worked for a food manufacturer for almost two decades has won a claim of constructive dismissal and disability discrimination against the company.

Despite suffering with epilepsy and being told such work could make him ill, Philip Hambly was given a new job sorting pallets on the production line at Solway Foods Ltd in Corby last March.

He immediately raised concerns, insisting that doing it would put himself and his co-workers in danger, but despatch manager John Adkins and occupational health advisor Seymour Franklin disagreed.

Mr Franklin said he undertook a risk assessment and concluded the job was safe.

But as a result Mr Hambly, who had worked for the company for 19 years, fell while doing the work and decided to resign.

He said: “I knew in my heart it was right to fight the case – I was forced to leave.

“I could not understand why I was put to work on a line when for over 10 years it was made very clear by the management and occupational health advisor that I must not.

“It was completely unsafe to have me working on the line.

“I am very happy with the decision. It took nearly a year to bring the matter to court but it was worth the wait.”

Mr Hambly’s decision to resign was influenced by a desire to look after his seven-year-old son Thomas.

He wanted to remain in good health and was worried that an injury at work could affect his ability to care for him.

During the case he received help and support from the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council.

Mr Hambly thanked Jenny Sebastian from the rights and equality council and said without her the case would not have even gone as far as the tribunal.

She said: “Solway Foods Ltd, which has factories across the UK and Europe, has over 1,700 employees. Its claim to be an equal opportunities employer was not found by the tribunal and none of the respondents had undergone any equality training.

“Most employers have a written equal opportunity policy, but employment tribunals are particularly interested in what happens in practice – the larger the employer, the higher the tribunal’s expectation of them.”

Mr Hambly will be awarded damages but the figure will be decided at a hearing at a later date.

For more information or support contact the rights and equality council on 01604 400808.