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Discrimination Claims Negotiates $25K For Worker Demoted For Brain Tumour

Discrimination Claims negotiates $25K for worker demoted for brain tumour

Discrimination Claims has negotiated $25,000 compensation for a medical worker who experienced discrimination after developing a brain tumour.

The employer demoted the woman, and subsequently tried to sack her, as a result of the impairment she suffered following surgery.

Her employer agreed to the settlement after the worker filed a claim for impairment discrimination.

Worker diagnosed with brain tumour

*Jane worked for the Brisbane-based company since 2005, initially as a pathology collector, and then as an area manager.

However, at the end of 2105, she received her brain tumour diagnosis.

Following surgery, she suffered weakness in her left hand and arm, and consequently spent a further two months in hospital.

By April the following year, the company wanted her back at work, despite Jane not having a clearance from her doctor.

Eventually, she returned in a limited capacity carrying out administration duties, including payroll and auditing.

However, she made a number of mistakes as a result of her medical condition.

Therefore, she requested additional training, however her employer refused.

Instead, they demoted Jane, cutting her wage by $10 an hour, and subsequently removed her from the area manager role.

Target of cruel gossip

Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims filed an impairment discrimination claim in the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland.

“This poor lady has been a loyal worker for this company for more than a decade,” he said.

“Through no fault of her own, she became sick, and when she tried to return to work, they made her life hell.”

Mr Heffernan says co-workers subjected Jane to cruel gossip, for example, calling her “deranged” and “not like she used to be”.

Independent medical examination

In late 2017, the company sent Jane for an independent medical examination, which determined she was fit to work.

However, the examination found she couldn’t take blood samples – a task she only has to do in emergencies.

The company saw its chance, and moved to sack Jane claiming that blood sample collection is an inherent part of the job.

“Taking blood samples is definitely not an inherent requirement of the job,” Mr Heffernan said.

“In fact, the company could easily arrange for another worker to carry out that task if required.”

The company then moved Jane to a new role requiring just two days of work a week. 

Mr Heffernan says by doing so, the company had taken unlawful adverse action against the worker.

Discrimination Claims negotiates $25,000 for demoted worker

During conciliation in the ADCQ, the employer agreed to pay Jane $25,000 compensation, and in return, she agreed to leave the company.

Mr Heffernan says the company could have made adjustments to accommodate Jane.

“Employers are legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate workers with impairments or disabilities,” he said.

“If they don’t, they will face claims of unlawful discrimination.”

*name changed

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