A Starbucks employee who suffers from dyslexia has won a disability discrimination claim,
demonstrating how employers can veer into legal difficulties if they fail to handle certain conditions delicately.
Mescret Kumulchew’s condition meant that she sometimes had difficulties with reading, writing and telling the time. As part of her role, she was expected to record fridge and water temperatures on a duty roster. While she had always been open with her employer about her dyslexia, when she mistakenly entered the wrong information, she was accused of falsifying document. …
During a disciplinary hearing, she was asked to provide a ‘certificate’ to prove her dyslexia, despite Kumulchew’s GP having explained that dyslexia people are not provided with such documentation. Subsequently, she was given lesser duties and told to retain, which she said left her feeling suicidal.…
The tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her disability and had discriminated against her because of the effects of her dyslexia. It also found that she had been victmised by her employer and the company had demonstrated a lack of knowledge of equality issues.
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, partner in the employment team at law firm Bond Dickson, advocates open communication from both sides. ‘Many employees want to hide conditions such as dyslexia because they feel it could hamper their prospects’, she said. ‘But with an open culture, managers can look at alternative ways of getting things done; for example, by allocating parts of an employee’s job to someone else, or supporting them to do it a different way’. The…
According to the British Dyslexia Association around one in 10 have dyslexia, although many have not been formally diagnosed. Jessie Shelden, a therapist working with the Alison Lawson Centre, which provides training for adults with dyslexia, said there can be more than 30 manifestation of the condition: ‘If employers can get the root cause of the dyslexia, they can offer staff the right support – mistakes will be avoided and employees will feel more valued’
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