UPS must pay former manager €75,000 over dismissal after 33-year career

The Irish arm of delivery giant UPS has been ordered to pay a former senior manager €75,000 for his discriminatory dismissal.

At the Labour Court, Deputy Chairman Tom Geraghty has ordered United Parcel Service of Ireland Ltd pay Kevin Roberts, the former solutions manager with the firm, €75,000 for his 2019 discriminatory dismissal and for also not providing Mr Roberts reasonable accommodation in terms of his disability.

Mr Geraghty found that Mr Roberts has a disability as a result of which he was unable to travel to the extent required for his job.

Mr Roberts – who had a 33-year career with UPS Ireland before his dismissal in August 2019 – sought a return to work and was assessed as medically fit to return, subject to him not being required to engage in travel and to adjustments in responsibilities.

Mr Geraghty stated that Mr Roberts was not accommodated and as a result of his inability to travel which, in turn, was due to his disability, he was dismissed.

The case was before the Labour Court after Mr Roberts appealed a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruling where he was awarded €20,000.

This was after a WRC Adjudication Officer found that the discriminatory dismissal complaint was not well founded but that Mr Roberts’ right to reasonable accommodation had not been met.

A medical assessment in 2015 found that Mr Roberts was suffering from a high number of stressors that were affecting his wellbeing.

Mr Roberts’ symptoms worsened and in 2016 he went on sick leave and was advised to separate himself from all work-related stressors.

Mr Roberts continued to be ill throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018.

But he was declared fit to return to work in December 2018, subject to reduced travel requirements and him being able to maintain proximity to his support network

In February 2019, Mr Roberts was told there was no suitable role for him in Ireland. UPS Ireland proposed a lower-level role, which Mr Roberts declined due to his pension being based on his final salary.

On behalf of Mr Roberts, Alastair Purdy & Co Solicitors argued that in the absence of any meaningful examination of what accommodation could be implemented, Mr Roberts was dismissed solely as a consequence of his disability.

UPS Ireland told the Labour Court the reason for dismissal was medical incapability.

UPS Ireland stated that at the time of dismissal, Mr Roberts was incapable of carrying out his role due to his inability to travel internationally.

The firm stated Mr Roberts had been unable to perform his duties for three years.

The company argued that had Mr Roberts accepted the reasonable alternative role, he would still be an employee of UPS Ireland.

UPS Ireland stated that it went to great lengths to accommodate Mr Roberts and contended that paying Mr Roberts his existing salary while he carried out a lesser role would have been a disproportionate burden on the company.

The company stated Mr Roberts was not discriminated against on grounds of disability nor was he unfairly dismissed.

The delivery firm said Mr Roberts’ job required travel, primarily to France and Germany.

The company argued it would not have been viable to retain the role without travel.

If you have been unfairly dismissed find out now if you could claim compensation. This is a free service to the public operated by the Irish Claims Authority.

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