A disabled woman has settled her Employment Tribunal claim against the London Organising Committe of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (“LOCOG”) after a recent Court of Appeal decision.
Ms Tracy Part, 42, started volunteering for LOCOG in their catering department last year, working primarily in the Athletes Village prior to the start of the summer Olympic Games. Ms Part, who suffers from severe epilepsy and arthritis, believed that LOCOG had failed to take sufficient account of her disability and that she was unable to complete her duties due to the practices and procedures that they followed. She therefore terminated her volunteer work and issued Employment Tribunal claims under the Equality Act 2010, including a failure to make reasonable adjustments to account for her disabilities, discrimination arising from her disability, indirect discrimination and disability-related harassment.
It emerged last week in The Third Sector that Ms Part – a PhD student – had settled her disability discrimination claim. It is not known how much she settled the claim for but it is believed that she was looking to achieve at least a £5,000 figure to withdraw her claim. Equally, it is not known whether she settled her Employment Tribunal claim via an ACAS COT3 form or whether a compromise agreement was used. Neither Ms Part or LOCOG commented on the settlement, with a LOCOG spokeswoman stating that to do so would breach the confidentiality of the agreement to settle the claim.
One of the factors that is believed to have potentially persuaded Ms Part to settle her claim is the recent Court of Appeal decision in X v Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau. It was determined in this case that the Equality Act 2010 was not supposed to allow volunteers to make claims for discrimination against their “employers” (unless, of course, the custom and practice of the arrangement suggested that there was a contract of employment in place i.e. the paying of wages instead of expenses).
This case demonstrates that volunteers (perhaps unsurprisingly) have little recourse against their “employers” if they feel that they have been discriminated against. However, employers in general should be careful that they are not discriminating against disabled employees (or any other protected characteristic i.e. age, race, sex, sexual orientation etc.) otherwise they may find themselves facing a costly and time-consuming Employment Tribunal claim.
If you think that you may have a claim for discrimination it is recommended that you obtain independent employment law advice from an employment law solicitor. Further, it is recommended that you submit a grievance letter to your employer as soon as possible (by using, for example, this grievance letter template).
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