Skip to main content

Employers succeed in reasonable accommodation case




In a recent case before the WRC (ADJ-00003094), the adjudication officer (the “AO”) found in favour of the respondent in a constructive dismissal and reasonable accommodation case brought pursuant to the Employment Equality Acts by a senior nurse suffering from a disability. The complainant was a psychiatric nurse who had worked in the community for 13 years. A redeployment of her role was due to take place along with other nurses away from the community. Further to this, one day on her way home from work, the Complainant suffered a “Transient Ischemic Attack” (TIA) when the left side of her body went limp and she could not speak. As a result of this, and stress in the workplace, her GP stated that she was unfit for work. Subsequently, the complainant was still asked to work in different locations dealing with challenging patients. The complainant felt that these options were not appropriate as she could not deal with the manual handling of patients alone.  She requested a move to Naul on the basis that she was again allowed to work alone, but her employer refused this request. The complainant was given the opportunity to work in the Resource Centre as this had reduced physical contact with patients. However this role would  mean that the complainant would lose her shift work and therefore her shift premiums too. She was then offered the chance to work in another unit, ‘GL’, and was given the opportunity to meet with the manager and see what it was like there. Even though she had the chance to keep her shift premiums in this role, she did not take it up. The complainant argued that the respondent had pushed her towards ill health retirement and she had no choice but to retire as appropriate accommodation to her disabilities was not provided. However, the AO ultimately decided that the respondent had offered the complainant the opportunity to work in the Resource Centre which was reasonable accommodation in light of her medical history. This was the most appropriate reasonable accommodation available as her colleagues could support her in lifting or any other physical activity, unlike some of the claimant’s other suggestions which would have resulted in her working alone and with patients who required manual handling. The respondent in this case made good use of occupational health reports and made efforts with the employee to accommodate meetings with her and listen to her requests. This, no doubt, went a great way in helping them be successful in the outcome of this case.