Ryan Walker
Ryan Walker says he had gone from "enjoying a job for three years to dreading going into work"

A man with cerebral palsy who was told not to "play the disability card" in his job at Home Bargains has received £25,000 after alleging discrimination.

Ryan Walker, who worked as a sales assistant at its Armagh shop, took the case after his duties were changed.

He had informed the firm that he needed to be physically active to manage his disability but he was later moved from stacking shelves to working on tills.

Home Bargains settled the case without admitting liability.

The company told BBC News NI: "We consider this to be a private matter and out of respect for the individual's privacy we will not be providing any comment or further information on this case."

Mr Walker said his experience had been awful and he had gone from "enjoying a job for three years to dreading going into work".

He began working for Home Bargains in July 2017 and had informed the company of his disability and his needs during his job interview.

He said that being in an active role in which he could keep moving would help him to manage the effect of his cerebral palsy.

'I have to be active'

He was given duties based in the warehouse as well as stock filling on the shop floor.

"I loved it at the start and then coming to about three-and-a-half years into my job it started to go downhill," he said.

In late 2020 he was asked by the company to cover the tills and to work extra hours.

Mr Walker said that he was happy to help on the tills but could only do so for short periods of time due to his disability.

"I can't sit down for more than about 20 minutes because I will start to stiffen up, I'll start to have cramps, I'll get really tired," he said.

"I just have to be active, walking around, doing things."

A Home Bargains store

Home Bargains is not commenting on the case "out of respect for the individual's privacy"

He said that when he tried to explain his needs to his employer he was told not to "play the disability card".

"It made me really upset hearing that from someone in a management team who had a duty of care over me - it made me feel not wanted," said Mr Walker.

"It made me very uncomfortable with working in the workplace because I don't have that trust in the management team."

'Damaging my health'

He said he contacted the company's wellbeing team to lodge a formal complaint about the failure to provide reasonable adjustments and the effect that was having on him.

It was agreed that he would only work in the warehouse and fill shelves but he alleged that he was subsequently ordered to work on the tills.

He wrote to his employer to express his frustration that it had not dealt with his reasonable adjustments appropriately but later resigned from the job.

He said: "I was honest with my employer about my disability from the start.

"I was eager to work. I wanted to do a good job.

"In the end I felt I had no option but to resign as I felt it was damaging my health."

Mr Walker took his case with the support of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Mary Kitson from the commission said: "Employers must operate within our equality laws.

"No employee with a disability should feel that their needs are not understood or valued by their employer."


From BBC




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