Withdrawn job offer costs firm £17,000 for disability discrimination

A man with a stammer has won £17,000 in compensation at the employment tribunal, after a prospective employer withdrew its job offer.

Nazakat Ali had been offered a job at the Pennine Care NHS Trust’s Freedom of Information department, when he contacted his new employer to ask if he could begin at the new job making calls in private.

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Despite Ali having made it clear at interview that he suffered a speech impediment, the trust withdrew its offer of employment, claiming at the tribunal that Ali had “misled” those hiring him.

Ali then took the trust to the employment tribunal for disability discrimination. It granted him £17,000 compensation and told Pennine Care that it should have allowed him to work in a separate room.

“To have a tribunal judgement involving pre-employment issues, such as withdrawal of job offers, is still relatively rare,” said Matt Jenkin, employment partner at law firm Moorcrofts.

He told HR magazine the trust’s failure to follow its own hiring procedures made for a costly error.

“The trust has a policy that includes ensuring occupational health advice is obtained before refusing employment on health grounds.

“Failing to follow its own procedures was a significant factor in the tribunal’s decision,” he said.

After his initial rejection, Ali raised a grievance and asked for a trial period in the role, which was denied.

This, alongside the NHS’ failure to make an occupational health assessment, was a crucial mistake according to Pam Loch, head of multi-service law and HR firm Loch Associates.

She told HR magazine that a trial period can be an important way of ensuring disabled candidates are not discriminated against.

She said: “Without necessary accommodations, the disability might hinder their performance in the interview and give an inaccurate representation of their abilities. 

“A trial period also allows an employee the opportunity to do that too and it is clear that a failure to provide this, could well be considered a failure to make reasonable adjustments.”