Asda’s ‘disability discrimination’ is not an isolated problem

Sacked Asda worker Mark Misell
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ASDA is still in the firing line over its sacking of a disabled worker. So far the corporate giant isn’t backing down. But the situation represents a growing problem for chronically ill and disabled people who work.

ASDA: in the firing line

As Essex Live first reported, ASDA sacked Mark Misell from its Shoeburyness store. It claimed this was because he was smoking in a place he shouldn’t have been. Misell had worked for ASDA for 30 years. He lives with learning difficulties. These mean he cannot read or write. But even after decades of service, ASDA chose to fire him for what appears to be his first offence.

ASDA decided that Misell’s actions were gross misconduct. It then fired him without notice. The Mirror reported that ASDA:

caught [Misell] having a cigarette in a trolley bay while at work on May 25 this year.

But [Misell] – who can’t read or write – claims he didn’t understand the store’s policy on smoking in the car park due to his learning difficulties.

He could now face homelessness because of ASDA’s decision. So, the GMB Union has got involved.

Enter the GMB Union

It said that Misell was a car park porter. The GMB Union said in a press release that he:

Read on...

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was proud to go to work so that he could assist customers.

On the day in question, [Misell] chose to have a cigarette within the car park so that he did not have to stop his work and walk to the designated smoking shelter.

Throughout the farcical disciplinary process, ASDA’s management incorrectly claimed that the allegation was a breach of the law and that [Misell’s] learning difficulties and inability to read and write had no bearing upon the matter.

GMB’s regional organiser Keith Dixon said:

ASDA must adhere to the Equality Act 2010 and start to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.

ASDA, who have previously signed up for the government’s Disability Confident scheme which makes the most of the opportunity by employing disabled people should be ashamed of their actions…

GMB London Region have passed this matter onto our legal teams to bring to an employment tribunal so that justice can be achieved for [Misell].

But the story shows a wider problem for chronically ill and disabled people in England.

A bigger problem?

As Disability Rights UK wrote, in July 2013 the government brought in fees for people wanting to take employers to a tribunal. It noted that after the government introduced these:

the number of disability discrimination cases dropped considerably. In the two years prior to the introduction of tribunal fees, an average 1,827 disability discriminations went to tribunal every three months. After fees were introduced, the average number of cases dropped to less than half, averaging 876 cases per three-month period. Since the fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in a case brought by Unison in July 2017, the volume of disability discrimination cases has started to return to pre-tribunal fee levels. Since July 2017 there have been an average of 1,673 disability discrimination cases going to tribunal each quarter, and in… July to September 2019… over 2,000 disability discrimination cases were brought.

So, Misell’s case is not an isolated incident.

Asda: a “revolving door” of discrimination?

For example, Dixon noted that:

ASDA appear to be operating a revolving door scenario where those with disabilities are pushed out of the business to be replaced by non-disabled colleagues.

Gone are the days when ASDA would respect their workforce and support those with disabilities.

It is becoming common practice for colleagues with disabilities to be challenged upon their work rate, work speed or matters to which they have no control.

Meanwhile, ASDA told Essex Live:

We do not comment on individual colleague circumstances and we have advised Mr Misell and his representatives as to the next steps following the final hearing

An entrenched problem?

But as the Mirror reported, Misell feels that ASDA has discriminated against him. He said the boss that fired him:

has made assumptions about my understanding of policy, and my mental health, where he could not have been able to do so, and that this led to him making the wrong decision as an outcome to the disciplinary.

This has put me at a disadvantage due to my disabilities and is disability discrimination due to my learning disabilities not being taken into consideration.

Sadly, Misell’s cases is one of thousands every year in England. The fact that disability discrimination is barely less widespread than it was almost a decade ago, shows that something is still very wrong with the way employers treat chronically ill and disabled people.

Featured image via GMB London Region

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  • Show Comments
    1. Interesting how the Big Corporations fully understand Disabilities, up to the point of the Check Out! ASDA even has “Autism Friendly” Tuesdays, but like most companies when it comes to staff they “have NO Idea”!
      We REALLY NEED Unconditional Basic Income, so that people affected by anything that makes them “Unemployable”, could learn Skills/a Craft/Programming/etc, that could bring income to declare over and beyond UBI, which will give a massive boost to self-pride and will to live and get People out and about interacting with Neurotypicals!

    2. The same can be said for Legal Aid which was taken from the hands of the ordinary man/woman in seeking legal action by David ‘ Pig F***** ‘ Cameron.
      The Department of War on People has no trouble at all in paying out, on average, £42m in NON RELATED BONUS PAYMENTS to staff who take claimants off of the books, resulting in as many deaths as has the Plandemic.
      Aktion No10 has been in operation from the day Thatcher took office. Every Conservative & Fascist Party has had its reincarnation of a former high ranking Nazi Party member…the new Himmler? Not-so-pritti-patel…herself the child of immigrants…albeit rich immigrants.

      1. Absolutely! If ever we needed an analogy of everything that is wrong in the UK and world today, it must be The Neoliberal Neolabour Party TORIES! The Conservative TORIES are wicked twunts and disastrous, but we know and expect that but the Neolabour Party TORIES has multiple layers of masks and they will be no improvement.
        Every time The UK Labour Party makes a good win of a Seat, Position, Appointment The Neolabour TORY Wehrmacht Machine starts Trawling and before you know it they are sacked and replaced!
        The People still have the Power to get the right People in the right seats, but The Powerful Ones click a finger and they are gone, and NO Accountability, NO Repercussions! They do as they want, Keith is a great example just about every case during his CPS Rule has files and files and files missing just vanished, how is that not punishable!
        We need to Unite and Stand as One! One Standing with Many Supporters are not enough any more! We have to do it without violence from them or us, we need a Commission of The People to start concentrating ideas, data, to inform, educate and Intel for The People, but completely decentralised. BUT can we wake the Sheeple!?

    3. Neurodiverse solidarity with Missell. His treatment by ASDA is appalling but unsurprising. I’m glad GMB union are supporting him. I agree with above comment that UBI is needed but corporations still need to be required to act according to DDA/equality act.

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