Judge finds company failed to make reasonable adjustments for disability

A diabetic security guard who left his job after a hypoglycemic attack has won his tribunal claim.

The Employment Tribunal heard that a seasonal security guard was employed on a zero-hours contract, but typically worked 53 hours a week. The site where the guard was placed had very little telephone reception and a six-foot gate that could not be unlocked from the outside. During a shift he suffered a hypoglycemic attack, brought on by low blood sugar, while he was in his car waiting for the site’s contractor to relieve him from his shift. He fell asleep and was woken up by a knock on the car window, after which he unstably walked towards the gate.

During the time that he had been unwell in the car, one of company’s directors received a call telling him that contractors were unable to gain access to the site because the guard was disoriented and they were unable to catch his attention.
After instructing the caller to call an ambulance, the director then drove to the site himself. However, by the time he arrived, the ambulance had already attended and the guard had left. He was informed that the guard had suffered a hypoglycemic attack, which was the first the director knew of his diabetes.

A site risk assessment was carried out using information obtained online and it was concluded that reasonable adjustments were not feasible and the site could not be made safer for the guard. He was advised that he could no longer be offered work at the site but that the company was looking for alternatives, such as a front-of-house role or at a site where there would be more than one security officer on duty.

No work was available and the guard asked for his P45 in order that he could seek benefits. The company then received an employment tribunal application citing unfair constructive dismissal and disability discrimination. The judge commented that, whilst it was “reckless” of the employee not to tell the employer of his diabetes, the employer should have gone to greater lengths to establish what reasonable adjustments could be made to support the employee. Yet again, a judgement putting the onus of responsibility to seek reasonable adjustments on the employer rather than the employee.

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