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Date Published:08 Mar 2016 Last Updated:13 Apr 2021

Starbucks lose a disability discrimination claim against dyslexic employee

Employment Law Advice

A dyslexic employee has successfully won a disability discrimination claim against Starbucks.

The judgment has not been released however the BBC released a report on the case which included an exclusive interview with the employee.

The case

Starbucks accused the employee of falsifying documents and, as a result, demoted her. The employee explained to the BBC that these serious allegations resulted in suicidal thoughts. The tribunal found that errors were made as a result of her dyslexia as the employee struggled with reading, telling the time and writing.

The employee had made Starbucks aware of her dyslexia however they didn’t make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her difficulties.

The employee suggested some adjustments that Starbucks could have made to assist her, which included having somebody to check her work.

The tribunal found that Starbucks failed to make reasonable adjustments, discriminated against the employee because of the effects of her dyslexia and also victimised her.

A separate hearing to determine compensation is pending and Starbucks will not fully comment until the case has been concluded.

The law

Although this decision does not set a legal precedent it does highlight that dyslexia suffers are protected by the Equality Act 2010 and, under this Act, an employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

Practical advice

It is important that employers take time to try to understand the effects that the disability has on the employee and consider/discuss any steps that can be taken to prevent the employee being disadvantaged in the workplace.

Employers must have appropriate policies in place to ensure that discrimination does not occur in the workplace.

The British Dyslexia Association has released specific guidance for employers relating to reasonable adjustments in the workplace for dyslexic employees.

Acas have also published useful guidance for employers on dealing with and avoiding disability discrimination.

Should you have any questions, wish to discuss this topic further or require a review of your policies please do not hesitate to contact Kate Brooks.