Hospital didn’t discriminate against technician with blood phobia
An employee with a blood phobia was not subjected to disability discrimination when he was required to escort patients to and from hospital wards.
Andrew Brangwyn was an occupational therapy technician with South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust. He had a phobia about blood, injections and needles.
In January 2011, he was informed that he had to attend a meeting on a medical ward. He attended the meeting, felt sick, and left work early. His next working day was two weeks later, when he was required to attend another on-ward meeting.
He became ill again and was signed off work with stress. He lodged a grievance concerning the changes to his duties.
Several new job descriptions were issued, which stated that his duties would be limited to occasional collecting and returning of patients to wards but failed to reflect agreements that he would not have to attend on-ward meetings.
He was dismissed in February 2013. The issues before the Employment Tribunal included whether the trust had imposed a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) that required Mr Brangwyn to go on to medical wards, and whether that PCP put him at a substantial disadvantage.
The tribunal criticised the trust for not properly amending the job descriptions but found that an initial PCP requiring Mr Brangwyn to enter the wards had effectively been removed during the grievance process.
It rejected his claims for a failure to make reasonable adjustments, disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.
The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. It accepted that Mr Brangwyn had been instructed that whatever the standard job description might say, he would not be required to go on to the bed areas of medical wards to collect or return patients.
While it was deplorable that the trust kept issuing job descriptions that did not accurately reflect those instructions, that wasn’t not enough to establish his case.
Please contact Jacqueline Webb if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.