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Home Bargains pay employee £25k over disability discrimination claim

Ryan Walker

A disabled sales assistant has been paid £25,000 in compensation after he threatened to take the Home Bargains to court.

Ryan Walker, who has cerebral palsy, worked in the firm’s Armagh store where he told staff his role needed to be physically active in order to manage his condition.

But he was told his job would be changed from stacking shelves to working behind the tills.

A spokesperson for Home Bargains told BBC News NI:  "We consider this to be a private matter and out of respect for the individual's privacy we will not be providing any comment or further information on this case."

Walker started working for the company in July 2017 when he explained the reasonable adjustments he needed at his interview.

The business gave him a job as a sales assistant carrying out duties in the warehouse requiring Walker to be on the move, which would manage the effect of his disability.

But when he was told the new role would be behind the tills Walker started to dread going into work.

"I loved it at the start and then coming to about three-and-a-half years into my job it started to go downhill," Walker said.

But in 2020 he was asked to cover the tills and extend his hours.

Walker did not mind the new role, but explained he could only cover for a short period of time  because of his cerebral palsy.

"I can't sit down for more than about 20 minutes because I will start to stiffen up, I'll start to have cramps, I'll get really tired," he explained.

"I just have to be active, walking around, doing things."

When he tried to make his employee understand they told him not to “play the disability card”.

"It made me really upset hearing that from someone in a management team who had a duty of care over me - it made me feel not wanted," said Mr Walker.

"It made me very uncomfortable with working in the workplace because I don't have that trust in the management team."

Walker lodged a complaint to the company’s wellbeing team saying the business had failed to make reasonable adjustments.

After making the complaint he resigned from the business.

"I was honest with my employer about my disability from the start.

"I was eager to work. I wanted to do a good job.

"In the end I felt I had no option but to resign as I felt it was damaging my health."

Walker was supported with his case by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, a spokesperson for the commission said:  "Employers must operate within our equality laws.

"No employee with a disability should feel that their needs are not understood or valued by their employer."

[ The strap line of the Home Bargains is "Top Brands, Bottom Prices" ]

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