Visually Impaired Employee Seeking £100,000 Worth of Damages 

In a recent Employment Tribunal, a blind baker was found to have been discriminated against after he was dismissed during his probationary period amid concerns about his performance. The Tribunal ruled that the bakery did not make reasonable adjustments for the employee, such as allowing him more time to familiarise himself with his role and environment.

The employee is seeking over £112,000 in damages from the company.


Ian Stanley, who is registered blind, was employed by Jones Village Bakery, a family-run bakery business, as a night shift production operative. Mr Stanley had previously worked as a packer in another food factory for 18 years. After passing a two-hour assessment, he began employment in July 2023.

On his first day, Mr Stanley disclosed his visual impairment. Six weeks into his three-month probation period, he was dismissed. The company cited health and safety concerns and the need to maintain efficient production to meet customer demands.

Mr Stanley was diagnosed with Barbet Biedl syndrome, a genetic condition that causes sight loss, in 2010. Whilst he does have some vision, his sight is severely impaired with his vision being 6/60, meaning that he can see at 6 meters what someone with usual vision could see from 60 meters away. He brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal for the bakery’s failure to make reasonable adjustments.

The company argued that Mr Stanley made numerous mistakes and took longer to complete tasks. These mistakes included crashing bread racks into machinery, dropping trays and improperly cleaning trays. Additionally, he struggled to read thermometers when testing bread temperatures. The company also claimed they could not afford to hire someone to assist Mr Stanley, effectively paying two salaries for one role.


The Employment Tribunal upheld Mr Stanley’s claim of unfavourable treatment, ruling that the bakery failed to adequately help him adjust to his role. The Tribunal concluded that as the bakery was aware that Mr Stanley was disabled by a severe sight impairment, it was evident that he would not be able to see the layout of the factory or the produce that he was handling in a way that a non-disabled employee would. Therefore, the Tribunal concluded that the bakery knew, or ought to have known, that it took, or would take, Mr Stanley longer to achieve the same standards in terms of efficiency, speed and accuracy than a non-disabled person. The failure to make reasonable adjustments increased the risk of his employment being terminated during his probationary period.

The Tribunal rejected the bakery’s argument that they could not afford an assistant for Mr Stanley and rejected the assertion that health and safety concerns were the reason for Mr Stanley’s dismissal. The Tribunal noted he had been allowed to work for six weeks without a health and safety risk assessment. Furthermore, the Tribunal emphasised that the onus was not on Mr Stanley to highlight the need for adjustments; the duty is on the employer to identify and discuss the possibility of reasonable adjustments with the employee.

Tribunal Judge Rhian Brace said that Mr Stanley should have been given more time to learn the layout of the factory and familiarise himself with his role. Judge Brace said that adjustments, such as a designated support worker and a high-visibility jacket to alert colleagues, would have enabled him to remain employed and therefore the dismissal was not justified.

The Tribunal found that Mr Stanley was placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled employee who benefitted from full sight. Mr Stanley is claiming a total of £112,107.77, which includes £33,404 for past and future losses, £35,000 for injury to feelings and a 25% uplift for failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance. A further one-day hearing will determine the final settlement.

Implications for employers

This case underscores the importance of making reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities. Failure to do so can lead to significant financial consequences and could damage an employer’s reputation. HR managers must identify when an employee may require adjustments due to a disability, even if it was not initially revealed, and proactively address these needs.

Managers should also receive training on determining and implementing necessary adjustments to avoid accusations of discrimination.

Recognising that the duty to identify and implement reasonable adjustments lies with the employer is crucial in fostering an inclusive workplace. This responsibility ensures that employees with disabilities receive the support they need to perform their roles effectively, reducing the risk of discrimination and enhancing overall productivity. Employers can fulfil this duty by conducting regular check-ins between line managers and employees to discuss any challenges or needs. Additionally, implementing thorough induction processes, providing disability awareness training for staff, and maintaining open communication can help identify when adjustments are necessary. Regular workplace assessments and feedback sessions also enable employers to proactively address and accommodate employees’ requirements, ensuring a fair and supportive work environment.

How we can help?

For further information, or to discuss the issues raised within this case, please contact us to speak to a member of our Employment Team.

Darren Smith
Partner, Employment
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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter.

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