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Shipyard worker with occupational arthritis wins discrimination case


A woman sacked after developing a disability at work has won her case for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Louise Brooks, 31, was dismissed by her employer, ship repair company A&P Falmouth, four years after being diagnosed with an arthritic type disability.

Brooks’ job involved dismantling and reassembling dockyard equipment, which was repetitive work and required high levels of dexterity and strength in her wrists.

She had started work in the shipyard when she was 16 but had to stop working at the age of 27 after complaining of pains in her arms. She was diagnosed with an arthritic disability and went on sick leave in 2002.

For the next four years, Brook says she was only contacted approximately once a year by A&P. The company never discussed alternative work with her until she was offered a job as a typist, which was unsuitable given the nature of her disability. Company documents, however, show that during this time there were around 15 other jobs available at different times over the four years which would have been suitable.

She was then dismissed in 2006, after spending the greater part of the four years unpaid. Brooks won her case at the Employment Tribunal after successfully arguing that A&P discriminated against her by not making reasonable adjustments or offering alternative work. The Tribunal criticised A&P for adopting an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to Brooks after she went on sick leave.

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