Mother sacked because of disabled daughter awarded £18,886
Published: 26 June 2017
Category: Legal News
A mother who was sacked because her employers felt that caring for her daughter was more important to her than her job has been awarded £18,886 in compensation.
Maria McKeith started working part-time for the Ardoyne
Association in Northern Ireland in 2010 while also acting as primary carer for
her daughter. She was dismissed in 2015.
The Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair
under the Disability Discrimination Act and that the association "did not
put forward any convincing or coherent explanation for its decision".
It said that her managers took the view that because she
“had a disabled child, her position was not properly in the workplace. Her
daughter was her priority”.
The judge said: "That is not the legal position. People
who are disabled themselves, or who are the primary carer of a disabled person,
have a right to work within the protection afforded by the 1995 Act."
The Court of Appeal upheld that decision.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms McKeith said she was left in
shock when she lost her job. "I did not ask for any special treatment and
I did not welcome it.
"I enjoyed coming to work, meeting people and being
able to advise and help them and I knew my daughter was being cared for while I
was at work.”
Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality
Commission, said the Disability Discrimination Act not only protects people
against discrimination because of their disability, it also
protects people in Ms McKeith's position, who have a role as primary carer for a disabled person.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "In this case, Ms McKeith
was denied the opportunity to work as a result of her daughter's disability. The
law makes such discrimination unlawful.
"It is important also, as was referenced in these
proceedings, to highlight that the purpose of the law is to assist disabled
people and their primary carers to obtain work and to integrate them in to the
"That is not a matter simply of money, but the dignity
of, and the respect due to, the people concerned."
Please contact Matthew Sigsworth in our Dispute Resolution
Team about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.