A judge has labelled the DWP ‘perverse’ and ‘blinkered’ after they sacked a disabled woman, the Guardian has reported.
Isabella Valentine was taken on by the DWP using a back-to-work scheme which gives apprenticeships to vulnerable, long-term unemployed claimants with the aim of helping them back into mainstream employment.
Valentine has severe and unpredictable migraines which have prevented her finding employment in the past.
“When I was handpicked for this programme, I was so happy. I hoped that I had finally found employers who would let me do a good job while being understanding of the time off I sometimes have to take because of my migraines.
“Instead, I was made to feel small and so stressed that my migraines got even worse. Not only were no reasonable adjustments made for my disability as legally required but I was subject to the same strict and unbending rules that permanent employees had to work by.”
Valentine says she was harassed from the very first day she took off sick with a migraine.
After she had been off for just four days the DWP began disciplinary procedures which led to her dismissal.
The judge branded the behaviour of Valentine’s manager ‘frankly perverse’ and said that she “slavishly followed the policy in a blinkered manner” leading to Valentine being dismissed whilst on a second period of sick leave.
The judge said:
“This was particularly surprising given the fact that [one of the managers] said it became clear very quickly that this was a group of people who needed a lot of support as they were not used to the working environment and needed support to help them cope.”
The DWP has the worst record of any government department when it comes to disability discrimination cases. Yet it is the DWP that manages the widely derided Disability Confident scheme which encourages firms to take on disabled employees.
The DWP claims to be a Disability Confident leader.