Charity boss held personally liable in discrimination case

The chief executive of a midlands charity for deaf people has been ordered to personally compensate an ex-employee with severe hearing problems and epilepsy for discriminating against her on account of her disability.

Birmingham Employment Tribunal ordered the Walsall Deaf People’s Centre chief executive Colin Sanders to pay Jayne Fletcher £2,310 on Tuesday after agreeing at an earlier hearing to her claims for disability discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.

At the earlier hearing, tribunal chairman Paul Swann heard how Fletcher, a sign-language teacher, had endured a catalogue of incidents at the centre before finally resigning in 2005.

The written judgment says Fletcher suffered less favourable treatment and harassment for reasons relating to her disabilities. It also says the respondents failed “to carry out adequate reasonable adjustments”.

The charity itself and Fletcher’s line manager, Maria Sanders, were also respondents in the case but reached an amicable settlement with Fletcher before Tuesday’s hearing. A statement from the charity said that both it and Ms Sanders had been unaware of the proceedings against them.

The statement reads: “Miss Fletcher has indicated that she did not want the deaf centre to close as a result of this claim and continues to believe that the centre carries out a valuable service within the deaf community."

In a statement issued through her lawyer, Fletcher welcomed the tribunal’s decision to make an individual award against Colin Sanders, describing it as “a rarity in discrimination cases”.

“Whilst the amount is disappointing, the fact that an award was made expresses disgust with the discriminatory conduct of that person,” the statement read.

Mr Sanders, who was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to education and the deaf community, was unavailable for comment as Third Sector Daily went to press. The charity refused to answer questions about whether it had any plans to discipline him, and was also unable to confirm whether he is any relation to Maria Sanders.


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