herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

Cleaner 'left in limbo' after gastric band op gets €7.5k

Cleaner is now back at work
Cleaner is now back at work

A facilities services company has been ordered to pay €7,500 to a cleaner for discriminating against her following her return to work after undergoing gastric band surgery.

At the Workplace Relations Commission, adjudication officer Aideen Collard said the woman "was clearly upset at what she perceived to be unfair treatment given her loyal and lengthy service" after her return.

Recovered

Ms Collard said the woman suffered six months' loss of earnings after a temporary role for her was terminated post-surgery.

She found that the facilities services company discriminated against the cleaner under the Employment Equality Acts by not providing reasonable accommodation for her at work as she recovered.

On November 6, 2017, the worker had gastric band surgery in her native Lithuania.

A week later, her Irish GP certified her unfit for work for one month while she recovered.

On December 11 - and following a further visit - the woman's GP issued a medical certificate certifying she was fit to return to work on light duties.

The doctor recommended that she "should not do any heavy lifting or pulling/pushing until three months after surgery".

The woman began work as a housekeeper/tea lady with her employer from January 2 last year.

However, she contended that the position was more like that of a cleaner and kitchen porter.

She had tried to adapt but struggled with some duties, particularly carrying bags of waste, and felt it was unsuitable.

Impeccable

The woman was told in February last year that she was no longer required and she did not work again for another five months for the company.

On July 2 last year, her doctor certified her as being fit to return to work on full duties and she resumed her employment in her role as a cleaning operative from July 23 without further issue.

The company said it acted reasonably towards the worker, who had a "transient" disability.

As part of her findings, Ms Collard stated that a long-standing loyal employee with an impeccable record was "left in limbo" without income for a number of months.

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