Employee advocacy firm Discrimination Claims has helped a Brisbane aged care nurse win a $17,000 settlement after she was sacked for not being able to lift anything, in a job where she was not required to lift anything.
The ridiculous situation arose when *Anne hurt her back and told her employer that she would not be able to lift anything heavy at work.
Soon after, she was told that she was being sacked because she was “no longer able to perform the inherent requirements of the job”.
But the nursing home where Anne worked had a strict No Lift Policy.
No Lift policies were introduced by WorkSafe to reduce the number of lower back and musculoskeletal injuries caused to nursing staff, and dictate that a patient must not be manually lifted except in emergency or life threatening situations.
Instead nursing staff are instructed to use lifting machines, standing machines, adjustable chairs, and mechanical chairs to do the work for them.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, said in Anne’s case, the employer obviously didn’t check their own workplace rules.
“Even though it was a no lift site, so no staff were allowed to lift, she was fired because she couldn’t lift,” he said.
“And when I rang them, I said, ‘I don’t want to break your heart here, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s industrial relations parade here, but you can’t do that.’”
Mr Heffernan said employers must make reasonable adjustments for workers with injuries or disabilities, and that could include no lifting, but in this case, there was no reasonable adjustment required because there was no lifting required as part of the job.
By sacking Anne, the employer exposed themselves to a claim of disability discrimination, or impairment discrimination as it is referred to in Queensland.
“I said to the nursing home, I’m not continuing this discussion with you, you either write this lady a cheque, or let’s box on to the Anti-Discrimination Commission, where I promise you, this case will be spectacular,” Mr Heffernan said.
In the end, the nursing home agreed to pay Anne $17,000 compensation.
If you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of an impairment or disability, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice.