Payout for disabled BT engineer after boss’s ‘pocket-dial’ tirade
A DISABLED BT engineer won £8,000 in compensation after a “pocket dial” allowed him to hear a manager’s offensive tirade about his condition.
Paul Tribe, a 54-year-old fibre optic joiner, was described as a “bull-------” by Wayne Read, the Openreach operations manager, who was unaware he had accidentally called his colleague.
An employment tribunal was told that Mr Tribe, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, heard Mr Read saying an “able-bodied” team would perform his job better.
A claim of harassment was upheld against the communications giant following a hearing in Leicester over the summer, resulting in a payout of £8,313.
Paul Evans, an employment judge, said the slur about Mr Tribe’s disability served to both “violate his dignity and to create a degrading or humiliating environment for him”. His written judgment continued: “The claimant’s perception was clearly that this was the case and, given the nature of the comments, it would have been strange if it had not been.”
Another claim of harassment – when Mr Tribe was told he “was not a complete handbag” by a separate manager – was rejected by the tribunal. The 30-year-old employee of BT received the unwitting call while attending a job at a police station on May 26 2016.
A desk sergeant had informed him at 4pm that he was leaving the site and no one else would be able to grant him access to the compound.
Having reported this development to Mr Read, Mr Tribe’s phone rang again – and this time he heard his supe- rior’s voice talking about him third person.
Mr Read apologised when confronted, but warned Mr Tribe to hang up if it happened again, the tribunal was told. He subsequently denied the call had happened at all.
But the judge “preferred” Mr Tribe’s evidence, also accepting the account of his colleague, who had heard the foulmouthed rant when the call was placed on speakerphone.
The engineer previously won a disability discrimination claim against BT in 2013, allowing him to return to a field role despite the limitations of his muscle-weakening condition. He worked as part of a two-man team, with a colleague performing the roles he physically could not.
Two further claims, that Mr Tribe was victimised in breach of the Equality Act and that BT breached a duty to make reasonable adjustments, were rejected by the tribunal. BT said it would not be commenting on the claims.
[The comments served to] ‘violate his dignity and create a degrading or humiliating environment’