Article written by Simran Lalli, Solicitor, Employment department
A deaf job applicant claimed that their interviewer had concentrated on his disability rather than the skills and experience that were required to perform the role with the interviewer claiming to be “intrigued as to how they felt a deaf person could cope in the workplace and made no attempt to explore what sort of ‘reasonable accommodation’ the employer might have to make for him”. Consequently, the interviewee felt that they spent the interview defending their ability to do the job safely.
The interviewer admitted to not asking any other candidates about their ability to do the job safely. Subsequently, the applicant claimed disability discrimination on the grounds that the employer had failed to consider what sort of reasonable accommodation it should make for them.
The law says you have to make ‘reasonable accommodation’ for disabled employees, including job candidates, so they can perform as well as non-disabled colleagues. For disabled interviewees, that means taking appropriate measures to give them a fair opportunity to compete on an equal basis with other candidates of equal merit.
The Adjudication Officer found that, in this case, the interviewer had failed to explore the issue of reasonable accommodation with the employee, which was evidence it had no intention of making any. It had therefore failed to discharge its duty to ‘demonstrate an openness to candidates of all abilities’, and was ordered to pay the employee €5,500.
Employers should make sure that interviews with disabled employees demonstrate openness to candidates of all abilities – for example, that they do not appear to be based on an assumption that a disabled candidate will not be able to do the job safely, or to indicate that the employer has no serious intention of making the necessary accommodation to employ the candidate.
The Grant Saw Employment department are hosting a webinar on Thursday 15th July at 12pm exploring five key steps in the recruitment process where compliance with the law is important. We hope to give you a better understanding of the issues and how to avoid the potential problems including those which may arise in the interviewing process. This webinar will analyse the best methods of recruitment, shortlisting, interviewing, making an offer of employment and avoiding the pitfalls. You can secure your spot by clicking here.
If you wish to discuss this case further or for specific advice on an employment matter, please feel free to email me or contact the Employment team on 020 8858 6971.