Tribunal win over reasonable adjustments for Judge with dyslexia

In a discrimination claim against the Ministry of Justice, a judge who has dyslexia has won a claim because the department failed to provide voice recognition software that would have helped her to carry out her job.

Judge Feley from the Reading employment tribunal ruled that the government department had breached the equality laws which required that reasonable adjustments be made for Ms Nadine Clarkson Palomares in order for her to conduct judicial business efficiently.

Ms Clarkson Palomares, an immigration and social security specialist judge claimed that the ministry had failed to supply her with necessary training and software. Furthermore, the ministry did not give her the option of a proof-reader.

The hearing, which took place on 13th January, ruled that from September 2016 until December 2018 the government failed to provide Ms Clarkson Palomares with voice recognition software. They also failed to provide sufficient training for the use of software from September 2016 until May 2019.

A complaint was upheld by the tribunal that the government indirectly discriminated against Ms Clarkson Palomares regarding the requirement to provide written statements in a social security and child support tribunal which took place without the use of voice recognition software between September 2016 and December 2018.

The tribunal heard that the claimant’s situation was not handled correctly because there was no pre-existing policy in place to handle a judicial officeholder who was dealing with the challenges faced by the claimant.

The tribunal ruled that although court service officials had done their best to supply Ms Clarkson Palomares with what she needed, they had in the absence of an appropriate policy and procedure ‘come up against significant obstacles.’

Ms Clarkson Palomares stated that these failures had adversely affected the ability to do her job. This resulted in her being unjustly criticised as well as being threatened with disciplinary sanctions.

The complaint of the government breaching its duty to make reasonable adjustments and the complaint regarding provision of suitable recording systems and a proofreading checklist were dismissed.

Also dismissed were her allegations of section 15 discrimination and section 26 harassment against the government.

The tribunal did, however, criticise the government for their ‘overall lack of coordination and pre-planning.’ This had resulted in a lengthy and problematic chronology of events.

In the final judgement, it was stated that the tribunal had used the opportunity to stand back and view the details of the case holistically. Unfortunately, there had not been anyone in the organisation who could do the same.

Simply put, the respondent’s organisation did not have any idea of how to handle Ms Clarkson Palomares’ situation in a correct manner. This was due to there being no pre-existing policy in place to handle the challenges faced by the claimant.

Because of the absence of correct policy and procedure, which was normally in place, it meant that even despite their willingness to help, the organisation was unable to overcome the issues presented by Ms Clarkson Palomares. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice commented that they had noted the judgement and were considering it carefully. 


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