Bus driver with Asperger's wins payout after harassment campaign

A bus driver with Asperger’s syndrome has won more than £30,000 in compensation in an employment tribunal after being harassed and repeatedly victimised.

The driver, identified as Mr Holland, was found to be harassed for his disability in a WhatsApp group chat used by his company.

He was threatened with dismissal and blackmailed by his colleagues.

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The tribunal heard Holland had always wanted to be a bus driver. He left his job in December 2020 after his superior at Harrogate-based A&A Coaches attempted to coerce him into lying to vehicle insurers about damage done to his car at work.

The manager repeatedly threatened to fire Holland until he agreed to submit a false account of events for the insurance company.

In distress, Holland contacted his father who encouraged him to resign. The judge ruled this amounted to constructive dismissal.

In retaliation A&A employees approached the DVLA with false complaints about Holland’s fitness to drive. Holland was then forced to take a full medical exam for the DVLA, at his own expense, to prove he could drive.

When he got a new job, his new employer was falsely informed that Holland had been responsible for a number of accidents at his previous firm, resulting in his immediate dismissal.

Three months later Holland was forced to leave another job for health reasons after his new employer received a note from staff at A&A that implied Holland was a danger to women.

Matt Jenkin, employment partner at law firm Moorcrofts, said the abuse the claimant suffered was appalling, with the employer seemingly having no effective mechanisms for preventing such behaviour.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “I was also shocked at the level of victimisation that appeared to have taken place.  

“Writing to the DVLA and to the claimant’s new employer were done with the intent of making the position of the claimant difficult and only added to the original acts of discrimination.”

Given the judge’s decision to award costs to Holland for A&A’s poor behaviour in the tribunal process, Jenkin said companies should be mindful of how they correspond with claimants.

Pam Loch, managing director and solicitor at Loch Associates, said the ruling highlighted the dangers to small businesses of trying to get by without proper HR or legal advice.

She told HR magazine: “I don’t think they fully understood how to deal with somebody that has a disability and manage them. 

“You had somebody here who was clearly vulnerable; they made an assessment, but it was not that significant; they don’t appear to have made reasonable adjustments, which obviously they are legally obliged to.

“I think if they had outsourced HR support or expert legal advice, they would then have understood their obligations. I would like to think they then would take the necessary steps to introduce, for example, training into the business, so this employee would have been treated in a fair and reasonable way.”