Harassed and victimised by laughing emojis!

A job applicant had enquired about a delivery driver vacancy via phone.  The employer used an answering service which reads out the messages.  The employer thought the message was a prank and replied with “why have I got a deaf person calling me?”

The applicant was mute and pursued legal action because he regularly used written communication to correspond and felt that he had been victimised on the grounds of a disability by the employer.  The employer had replied to text messages with “crying with laughter face” emojis and had blocked the applicant’s number.   The applicant had asked if the employer would hire a deaf person to be told that as the role was in the hospitality sector there was a “requirement” for staff to “communicate effectively”.

 The applicant explained to an employment tribunal that she was not deaf but was non-verbal and could “use an app” to communicate. She had made a data subject access request for CCTV of the phone call and it was at this point that the employer asked her to stop messaging him and sent the laughing emoji and blocked her number.

It was ruled that the use of the emoji caused “significant offence” to the applicant and that the emoji and blocking of the applicant’s number amounted to harassment and victimisation. She was awarded £7,450 which included injury to feelings.

Recently there has been a number of cases focussing on job applicants requiring additional support to make a job application or go through a recruitment process. 121 HR Solutions can provide effective interviewing, hiring and onboarding training to managers in which we cover the need to ensure that adjustments are offered to candidates in the recruitment process, when necessary. For further information contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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