Job-delay woman loses claim at tribunal

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A WOMAN who was made to wait 15 weeks before she could start her new job after she declared she had a mental health disability, has lost a claim for discrimination.

A tribunal held in Bury St Edmunds on Monday heard that Michelle Maddox was told she could start her new job with Orbit Housing on January 18 last year – subject to pre-employment checks.

She declared she suffered from depression on a health questionnaire and was then made to wait until May 1 before she could start her job, while the company sought advice from her GP and consultant to check she was fit to work, and then requested an occupational health report from Serco on whether she needed additional support as she would often be working alone.

Mrs Maddox who is in her early 30s and from Hartest, still works for Orbit.

“I felt I was being penalised because of my disability,” she said.

“Not knowing when, if ever, I was going to start my new job did cause us distress.”

She said the delay caused her and her firefighter husband Alasdair financial hardship – they had already paid up front for childcare costs – and it also meant that she missed out on maternity pay when her daughter was born in October.

Colin Smith, Orbit’s human resources adviser, said of the delay: “This was unprecedented in my experience. It was unexpected to say the least. We were simply trying to ensure her wellbeing by carrying out exhaustive checks.”

He added that the company had followed standard procedures and had not treated her any differently.