Nottingham Post

World is going down the tube if kindness can lead to trouble

- Pete Pheasant

IT’S a mad, sad world when being considerat­e can land you in bother. But that’s what happened at a recycling plant where a 66-year-old worker was asked if he’d like to take the weight off his legs.

The issue went to an industrial tribunal, resulting in a ruling that employers who offer a chair to older workers but not to younger ones could be in breach of equality legislatio­n.

Filipe Edreira believed that bosses at the plant in Worcester were trying to force him to leave because of his age.

He said he wanted to carry on working but was moved from the area where he had worked for ten years to another part of the plant.

At one point, his manager asked him if he wanted to sit down during his shift.

“There was nothing unpleasant or rude about the way in which he asked the question”, the tribunal noted.

But Mr Edreiera insisted that employees were not allowed to sit during their shifts and he did not see anyone else using a chair.

Ultimately, he was dismissed after going on sick leave, so he sued for age discrimina­tion and harassment.

He lost his case but the tribunal said of the chair offer: “The question is whether a reasonable employee in the claimant’s situation could see it as detrimenta­l, that is to his disadvanta­ge.

“Given that we found it was an unusual thing to do, in our judgment the claimant could legitimate­ly conclude that he was being treated differentl­y to others and therefore disadvanta­geously.”

So now we know: singling someone out for a kindness puts them at a disadvanta­ge because it makes them feel unusual. Pathetic.

The story might resonate with Nottingham­shire nurse Samantha

Holmes. Back in February the 29-year-old was left to stand while breast-feeding her crying baby during a journey on the London Undergroun­d because no one offered her a seat. The incident made her “blood boil”. “I felt invisible,” she said. “Could anyone even see me?”

Transport for London’s trains have marked priority seats for anyone who needs them and the firm says: “If one isn’t available, ask if someone will give up a seat.”

It adds that commuters can also apply for a “Please Offer Me A Seat” badge.

But what’s wrong with a bit of common courtesy? If someone’s struggling while standing up, surely others who could comfortabl­y swap places don’t need a badge to prompt them. Those passengers who turned a blind eye are probably the sort who’ll feel justified by the employment tribunal’s ruling. And those badges are an outrage, aren’t they? Fancy making people feel uncomforta­ble if they don’t stand for a breast-feeding mum!

Personally, I’m dreading a discrimina­tion lawsuit next time I open a shop door so that someone less agile can go ahead of me.

And what I mutter once they’ve gone through without a word of thanks could put me in breach of hate-crime laws.

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 ?? ?? Bosses on the London Undergroun­d are offering badges saying ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ to help passengers who need one more than others, such as expectant mums
Bosses on the London Undergroun­d are offering badges saying ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ to help passengers who need one more than others, such as expectant mums

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