Blackpool Today (UK).
Saturday, June 03, 2006.
A VET'S assistant has been awarded a £20,000 payout - after being sacked for going blind.
Hayley Tudor, 22, has made legal history by winning the first case of direct discrimination brought by a visually impaired person against an employer.
An employment tribunal found that Miss Tudor, from Preesall, had been unfairly dismissed from her job at Spen Corner Veterinary Surgery. She was awarded a total of £20,353 after the tribunal ruled in her favour.
Miss Tudor lost her sight after suffering a mini stroke in May 2005. She spent six weeks in hospital but was then left stunned when she was told she longer had a job to go back to.
Today, Miss Tudor said: "I loved my job and throughout my illness it was the thought of going back to work that kept me going. I had lost my independence, not being able to drive anymore and it felt like my job was all I had left.
"There are things my employer could have done to help me do the job still. The bulk of my work was reception duties and with speech software on the computer, tactile labels, talking scales thermometer, portable reader and other things I could have still done the job."
The case was brought under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). But her former boss, vet Sylvia Tschimmel, who argued Miss Tudor would not be able to do her job after losing her sight, today branded the ruling "ridiculous".
She said: "I only have two nursing assistants and the fact is that the court seemed to find I should be able to cope with one nurse that can see and one that was blind.
"There would be occasions when the blind nurse would be on her own in surgery and have to cope with emergencies that came in and other matters.
"I think that it is not feasible but the court felt otherwise."
The tribunal, in Manchester, ruled Miss Tudor's employer could have made adjustments to the workplace which would have meant Hayley could have kept her job.
Hayley was represented throughout the hearing in Manchester by Action for Blind People. Stephen Remington, chief executive at Action for Blind People, said: "It was very disappointing to hear that a case like this needed to take place. I hope this raises awareness among employers that they can make reasonable adjustments to enable visually impaired people to work and there is support out there to help them achieve this.
"Action for Blind People has supported Hayley throughout this case and after seeing her go through such an upsetting time, it was fantastic to see her win."
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