A claimant has received £50,000 in compensation because of “victimising”, “unlawful” and “oppressive” behaviour by a Jobcentre Disability Employment Adviser and work coaches.

The profoundly deaf claimant was in receipt of JSA and spent 6 years trying to get proper support to move into work from his local jobcentre in Leeds.

But staff there:

  • repeatedly failed to provide the claimant with a BSL interpreter;
  • sanctioned him, after providing a poorly qualified interpreter whose lack of skills prevented the claimant from providing evidence that he was looking for work;
  • refused to give the claimant access to video conferencing calls during and after the pandemic;
  • sent an internal email suggesting that the claimant had already used too many Jobcentre resources and needed ‘firm work coaching’ using directions and sanctions.

The claimant told the tribunal:

“I do feel that the Job Centre and the DWP have not wanted to help me because it is too difficult and too expensive for them. I also feel that most DWP staff do not understand the difficulties facing me as a profoundly deaf person.”

Unusually, the claim was brought in an employment tribunal rather than the county court.

But the employment tribunal decided it could hear the case because it considered the Jobcentre to be an Employment service-provider for the purposes of Section 55 of the Equality Act.

The tribunal judge considered that the internal email from a Disability Employment Adviser was victimising, unlawful and oppressive.  In awarding exemplary damages, the judge held that:

“This is the sort of email or conduct which anyone in receipt of services from a job centre would fear, that if job coaches or others are challenged, there will be reprisals.”

The tribunal’s award consisted of:

  • £33,000 by way of injury to feelings incorporating aggravated damages of £5000;
  • £10,000 exemplary damages in respect of an email sent about him:
  • £6880 by way of interest.

You can read a more detailed account by Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre, who represented the claimant so effectively.

You can read the full judgement here.

Thanks to Rightsnet, the website for welfare rights workers, for highlighting this case.

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    keepingitreal · 16 hours ago
    So much for the dwp making savings - sources and funding swallowed up in legal cases. Everyone who feels they have been mistreated, even if it's only in the incompetent handling of their benefit claim, should make a complaint and/or compensation claim.  Disrupt the dwp assault on the vulnerable population, mess up the uc migration schedule, confront the government with their own shambles and force them to sort it out. Every complaint could see a disabled person spared and a dwp agent brought to tssk. We cannot  give in to this persecution.
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    Julie · 18 hours ago
    This story is truely terrible.  Some job centre staff are awful.  They don't care and have no understanding of disabilities.  Even the ones they put in charge of the carers applications aswell. 
    One woman who worked in the job centre told me that the reason why autistic people can't wash them selves is because they have never been taught too. Implying neglect.   
    Another time she said that disabled people can be taught to live independantly.  Like they won't need any care if they are taught how to do things and they will Some how over come their disabilities if they are taught how to do things.  Implying neglect again.  
    The contempt they view people and carers with is horrible.  
    Sitting there listening to a member of staff saying those things then acting like she's a nice person with the tone of her voice when she's really a snake and understands nothing about disabilities what so ever. 


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      The Dog Mother · 9 hours ago
      @lesley I detest the circus... the animal one and the human one. Both trained, both bullied,both 'kept in their places ' ugh! 
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      lesley · 17 hours ago
      @Julie As though we are circus animals to be trained.
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    reasonstobecheerful · 1 days ago
    The fight back!
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    Elizabeth Vidler · 1 days ago
    This is what we can expect is it in the drive to get us back to work, I have always maintained that job centres and job coaches do not have the resources to get the vast nuances of disabilties into a job and provide sufficient support on that journey, which may or may not be successful, just about ramming square pegs into round holes and saving money.
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    gail · 1 days ago
    tip of the iceberg?
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    MrFibro · 1 days ago
    My guess is more claimants will be coming forward, and making a claim against the DWP'S BULLYING TACTICS.  I really and truly hope, that those responsible lose their jobs over this, and end up on the Dole.  This is great news for the claimant in question.  Just wondering if the 50k is going to be exempt from the 6k threshold before you lose benefits.

    My view is that it shouldn't be, the money there / received, is there for the claimant to get over the emotional stress & pain caused by callous, vindictive, evil DWP JSA staff. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Anon · 14 hours ago
      @Julie Any money from the DWP for compensation or back money is not counted for 12 months as savings or income. It will not affect his claim until after the 12 months is up. 
      Any money he has spent during the 12 months after receiving it will be looked at by the DWP and they will decide if it was deliberate deprivation of the capital or if was necessary expenditure.
      He will be allowed to pay off debt, by equipment to make life more comfortable, a reasonable car or a reasonable holiday. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Old mother · 15 hours ago
      @MrFibro I hope this has set a precedent and more people use this to fight injustice. 
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      Julie · 17 hours ago
      @MrFibro Unfortunately it will affect his universal credit and housing allowance.  It's not a bad thing though cos it will give him a bit of breathing space from the system.  I can only imagine that their behaviour has taken its toll on his mental health.   It won't affect his pip if he recieves that though.  Hopefully it will help him to employ his own interpreter to take to interviews with him. so he can get a job that he wants to do.  

      I can't believe they sanctioned a profoundly deaf man.  I mean it's the lowest of the low.  

      I think he should have been on esa in the support group without work commitments which stops sanctioning tbh. In the support group people are helped into work with out the ruthless work commitments that people have when they don't have disabilities.   He meets the criteria for full points for the communicating speaking and writing and communicating hearing and reading and coping with social engagement of esa.  He shouldn't have had to go through all what he did and wouldn't have done if he was on the correct benefit.  The job centre obviously never bothered to tell him to claim it cos they either don't know what they are doing which I kinda doubt or they have done it on purpose or both.  

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    Debbie · 1 days ago
    👏👏
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