Ryanair discriminated against flight attendant over brain tumour

The Employment Tribunal has ruled that the airline Ryanair discriminated against a flight attendant when she returned to work after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Margita Dworak had worked for Ryanair from 2004-2018 and was a senior flight attendant at the time she resigned.

In 2015, she began to experience severe headaches. These lasted for years and in 2017 she visited a specialist in Poland.

She was later hospitalised after suffering a seizure. She informed Ryanair she would not be at work the following week.

During the week she was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumour. After submitting numerous sick notes over the next two months she was visited by the HR officer, Ms Joyce.

Dworak told Joyce about her diagnosis. A few days later, she was taken back into hospital. Her brother emailed Joyce to let her know and provided a consultation note from a neurologist.

Dworak later asked to return to work and change roles to a ‘ground-based’ position while she awaited her surgery.

Joyce told her she couldn’t return as she was not medically certified as fit for flight attendant work.

After further meetings with HR officers, Dworak wrote on two separate occasions to reiterate that her diagnosis meant she was only fit for ground duties.

She was eventually told there were no ground duty positions available and that she was “free to check” the careers section on the Ryanair website.

Dworak found a cash office support operative position available but was told she would have to fill out an application form as Ryanair couldn’t simply allocate the role to her.

She submitted a grievance stating Ryanair had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her disability.

Ryanair then suggested several roles which were unsuitable either due to the location or Dworak’s disability.

Dworak eventually found a job at another company and took action against Ryanair for disability discrimination and constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal found in her favour.

Judge Tobin said: “To suggest to a disabled employee that they would have to check the website for vacancies is an indication of the employer washing their hand of any responsibility.

“It indicates that the respondent cannot be bothered to undertake even that most basic of reasonable adjustments.

“To subject someone to open competition for a role which may require reasonable adjustments to be considered is to fundamentally disadvantage a disabled candidate.”

Compensation will be decided at a separate hearing.

Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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