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Deaf diplomat `forced to quit` after Foreign Office refused to pay for £500,000 lip reader

28 March 2012 #Employment


You may recall this case from our earlier buddy blog.  Jane Cordell who is deaf had been employed as a diplomat by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a decade. In 2010 she was offered a posting as an ambassador in Kazakhstan but the FCO subsequently withdrew the offer because a lip reader was too expensive.

Although the FCO had previously provided a lip reader for Jane Cordell when she had been posted in Poland, in this instance it said it could not have justified the £500,000 cost.

As a result Jane Cordell resigned after losing her claim in the employment tribunal and appeal that followed to the EAT. The EAT had upheld the decision of the employment tribunal that the FCO did not directly discriminate against Ms Cordell under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now replaced by the Equality Act 2010) or breach its duty to make reasonable adjustments.

An appeal through the London Civil Appeal Court also failed with Lord Justice Pill commenting that there had been no error of law in the Tribunal`s approach.

The FCO has commented that although it is fully committed to equal opportunities and making reasonable adjustments for disabled staff pursuing careers in the  Foreign Office, in this case it did not "believe the adjustments that would have been required - costing in excess of £500,000 over two years - would by any measure be considered reasonable".

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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