A dyslexic Marks and Spencer employee has won more than £50,000 after she lost her job over concerns about mistakes in her emails.
Rita Jandu, who worked for the company for more than two decades, had difficulty reading and writing long messages and preferred to communicate using bullet points.
But she said she was “picked” for dismissal after repeated inaccuracies in her emails and other written work, an employment tribunal was told.
The hearing found that M&S managers ignored the impact of her dyslexia on her work, including on her ability to concentrate and communicate.
Ms Jandu has now successfully sued the retailer for disability discrimination and wrongful dismissal, winning £53,855 in the process.
At the central London hearing, Ms Jandu was told that Ms Jandu started at M&S as an assistant buyer and worked her way up to a position of clothing and home planner over a period of 22 years.
Her previous line manager often proofread important emails before sending them at Ms. Jandu’s request.
She also asked her to color-code key parts of long emails to make them easier to read.
Despite her dyslexia affecting her work, in 2019 she was told by her manager that she was “one of the best performers on the team.”
However, she was also told, “Sometimes communication seems rushed and not thought through before sending.”
In court, Ms. Jandu attributed this to her dyslexia.
She said, ‘If only I knew [more detail was required] I would, but I didn’t – writing a paragraph is the hardest thing I can do because my words are all mixed up.
“That’s why I made bullet points – all my emails are very similar – it’s not rushed for me, it might be rushed for someone who can write a lot, but I took my time.”
In July 2020, during the pandemic, M&S began discussing layoff options for the company. Staff were judged on several criteria to determine who would be fired.
The company’s notes on Ms. Jandu’s dismissal read: ‘Rita’s performance is good, but her consistency and accuracy are questionable.
“Rita is ranked accordingly and makes more inconsistent mistakes than others on the team.”
Labor judge Holly Stout ruled: ‘In this case, [her manager] her perception allowed it [Ms Jandu] was prone to “rushing” and “inaccuracies” to count against her. These were things caused by her disability.
The amendment proposed by [Ms Jandu] is that [M&S] should have disregarded all disability-related effects in the assessment [her] against the selection criteria for dismissal.
“We agree that this would have been a reasonable adjustment.”
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