Dyslexic employee wins discrimination case against Starbucks
The employee was Meseret Kumulchew and, in December 2015, an employment tribunal found that Starbucks had victimised her after she inaccurately recorded water and fridge temperatures, which formed part of her duties as supervisor of Starbuck in Clapham, London.
Starbucks accused Kulmulchew of falsifying the recordings, reduced her responsibilities, and ordered her to retrain. Kumulchew said she had made her bosses aware of her dyslexia and that the accusation of falsifying numbers had made her want to take her own life.
The employment tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Kumulchew’s reading difficulties, as they were required to do under the Equality Act 2010. It found that Starbucks showed little or no understanding of equality issues.
This case demonstrates that employers should always be wary when seeking to apply an apparently “one-size-fits-all” rule, as it may inadvertently discriminate against certain individuals in an unlawful manner. This is particularly the case where employers know, or should reasonably be expected to know that an employee has a disability.