Personnel officer alleges discrimination

A PERSONNEL officer is alleging her former employers discriminated against her because she had disabilities.Patricia Barnes, of Ipswich, has taken her former employers, engineering firm Crane Ltd, to tribunal claiming she was selected for redundancy because her disabilities were an inconvenience to the firm.

A PERSONNEL officer is alleging her former employers discriminated against her because she had disabilities.

Patricia Barnes, of Ipswich, has taken her former employers, engineering firm Crane Ltd, to tribunal claiming she was selected for redundancy because her disabilities were an inconvenience to the firm.

Mrs Barnes, who had worked for the firm in Nacton Road, Ipswich, for 24 years, alleged disability discrimination and unfair dismissal as she gave evidence yesterday during the first day of the hearing at Bury St Edmunds.

The chronic asthma and crone's disease sufferer, who had needed to take sick leave, told the tribunal: "My selection for redundancy was a personal decision because I was inconvenient. Because of my absences with illness.


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"There was personal antagonism from Steve Whiteley (head of human resources to who Mrs Barnes reported directly to).

"I believe Mr Whiteley disliked my disabilities and got rid of me the only way he could. I feel it was unfair and a discriminatory redundancy.''

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The tribunal heard that the environment effected her asthma, there were dirty and dusty offices and she was expected to go in to the factory where there were fumes and dust.

But Mr Whiteley, head of human resources at the firm, said: "I treated her the same way I treat any other employee, whether they were disabled or not. Her redundancy had nothing to do with absence or illness. She was not treated less favourably because she was disabled.''

He told the tribunal there was less administration in his department because of a new computer system for time and attendance, the finance department had taken over some duties Mrs Barnes had been responsible for, and the firm had less staff than it had previously employed.

He added that 11 others were also made redundant and he had never held any antagonism towards Mrs Barnes, always trying to establish a good working relationship.

The tribunal also heard from a senior company representative that the firm's decision to make her redundant was fair with her frequent absences in no way leading to her being asked to leave.

The case is expected to conclude today.

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