Tesco's Disgraceful Disability Discrimination ~ Tesco-Complaint

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tesco's Disgraceful Disability Discrimination

I'm the mother of a learning disabled employee of Tesco. She worked at a very large branch for 18 months on the checkouts, without supervision, taking cheques, money, etc., with no complaints whatsoever. She worked only 9 1/2 hours contract hours but during the year she was asked to do so much overtime, which she never refused because she wanted to show how good an employee she was, and wanted to increase her contract hours, which they refused to do. She did absurd shifts at their request, such as 8.00 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 7.00 to 1.00 a.m., always taking a minicab home at £14.00 a time, so that she was left with little to show for her work. I phoned and wrote to the Personnel Department asking them to increase her contract hours and to make them sociable, but received no response.

At the end of the year she was left owing £895 in underpaid tax because she had received Incapacity Benefit to which she was entitled for the 9 1/2 hours, but would not have been entitled to Disability Working Tax Credit because she was not doing 16 hours contract hours. She came off of the Incapacity Benefit on the advice of her DEA at the Job Centre and went on to Working Tax Credit because of the average during the previous year, but was not asked to do any overtime this whole year and now has to repay 6 months at £69 per month to the Working Tax Credit people, i.e. £1,800 for this year. Would anyone else work for 2 years and end up owing so much money?

The overtime stopped for my daughter when a new manager took over. Because she was now on Working Tax Credit, my daughter knew she had to work 16 hours a week, so constantly asked for overtime but was told "it's all gone", "it went yesterday" etc. She phoned in on various days but the reply was always the same. I was in a quandery. The Incapacity Benefit to which my daughter was entitled is over £100 per week, but if she went back on it and was asked to do overtime, then she would have to repay money and you cannot go on and off the benefit and in and out of Working Tax Credit. I made everything known both to the Personnel Manager and the Union repeatedly by phone and letter.

Additionally, my daughter has a problem with dexterity due to the brain damage she suffered as a baby which left her with Special Needs/Learning Disabled. She was folding the paper money notes to put them in the pod, but was told that they were not rolled tightly enough. She tried very hard to roll them tighter but couldn't. Consequently, I informed the Personnel Manager that she was unable to do the job properly, was upset, and could someone do this for her. She was very nice and told the staff that someone should do this for my daughter. Some of the colleagues were pleasant, but often my daughter came home saying that some colleagues were telling her that she was lazy, she must be able to do such a simple task and she felt really upset.

One day my daughter hurt her back on the checkouts lifting a large box of bottled water to scan. The rules for voiding had been changed so that each time she voided an item, always because of a customer changing their mind, she had to call over someone to handle the void. She was told that she was voiding more than others and on the occasion when she lifted the large box, she had done so to avoid scanning both underneath and at the side, so as to not having to void the transaction and call over a manager. She went in the following day in pain, reporting her injury to a Manager who told her to see how the day went. Later that day she was called into the office and told that she had snatched a credit card from a customer and had not smiled at him. My daughter explained that she was in pain, was trying to keep her back straight and had not intentionally snatched the card. She had no support at the meeting as a learning disabled employee is entitled to and was very distressed at the first time being disciplined.

She had 2 weeks off of work because of the pain to her back, visiting the doctor who gave her a medical note. My daughter was traumatised by the incident, which, unless you understand the insecurities and fear of a Special Needs person, you will not understand. She was not paid. She said she didn't want to go back on to checkouts and I accompanied my daughter to the first meeting I attended at Tesco's (there were many to follow). She was told that she could work as a shelf stacker, which my daughter agreed to and was introduced to a very nice older lady who showed her the job. She was told that this was a temporary job. On the fourth week, she went to work as usual, was handed a piece of paper with her name at the top, entitled "Cleaner's Job", with instructions on how to take a bucket of water and cloth around.

My daughter was heartbroken and phoned me in tears. Firstly, she hates the feel of water, secondly she is unable to squeeze the cloth same as she could not fold the paper notes as she has no grip or strength in her hands due to the brain damage and most importantly, she was humiliated at being demoted. Please remember that my daughter had done nothing intentionally wrong and she could not understand why she was being treated this way.

I asked for a meeting and accompanied my daughter to the next meeting where the manager, a Union Rep and another lady were present, the woman taking notes. What followed was the most appalling discrimination and humiliating treatment of my daughter by the store manager. He was not only abusive to her, but frightened her by jabbing his finger at her. He told her that his only concern was his customers and asked her why she had lifted the box. My daughter explained why but he was having nothing of it. He repeatedly asked how come for 18 months she had not hurt herself but on this occasion had!!! He tole me that she had been on a Health and Safety Course and when she told him she had not he produced a piece of paper on it with her signature. I asked to see the paper and it simply asked "Do you know how to lift objects". I asked him if this constituted Tesco's training and he put the paper away.

The Manager told my daughter that the cleaning job was the only one available at the store (a very large London store). I told him that she didn't want it, couldn't do it and he told me that if she couldn't do the job because of difficulties then she must produce a doctor's certificate to that effect. At that point, I became so angry at his treatment of my daughter who was sitting frightened and starting to cry, that I told him what he could do with his cleaner's job and that my daughter wouldn't be returning until he reconsidered the options open to her.
She sat at home for weeks, getting more and more depressed. She told me she wished she had never been born, and cried constantly. I requested she be transferred to another store, and I was told she had to go around looking for vacancies elsewhere and I accompanied my daughter to a number of stores, but she was told everywhere that there were no vacancies and some told her it was up to her store to put in a transfer request, which they did not do.

I sent an email to the CEO which got passed down to a senior personnel manager of another store and a grievance meeting was arranged where the Union Area Manager represented my daughter, a young lady took notes and I accompanied my daughter. At that meeting, the Personnel Manager told us that no such cleaning job existed. Cleaning is always done as part of a job, but not as a job in itself. He accepted that my daughter had done nothing wrong, he would arrange to find a new store for my daughter who said she would very much like to go onto .com. It was agreed that my daughter be put on "gardening leave".

Subsequently another meeting took place where Remploy was present, agreed to become involved again but only on the condition that my daughter work more than 16 hours a week. It took several months until they found another store for her. Other meetings took place which both my daughter, the Union and I attended, where the Union put forward my daughter's case for the money she has to repay the Inland Revenue, now totalling over £2,500 be reimbursed to her, that the 2 weeks money she lost when she had hurt her back and stayed at home be reimbursed to her, but nothing has happened.

Eventually she was found another large London store, much closer to home where she has been working very happily in the .com department. I have met and spoken with the manager and her line manager who have both confirmed that my daughter is picking up the job very quickly, they have no problems with her and that they like her and she is settling in as part of the team.

However, for some reason, she is still being paid from the previous store. Last month, despite doing over 23 hours a week, she was paid for the 9 1/2 contract hours she had previously done. Another meeting, and she was assured that the money would be made up. However, this month, having done 22 1/2 hours a week, she was again paid the 9 1/2 hours by the previous store. My daughter is heartbroken again and feels, and I must agree with her, that she is being victimized as surely Tesco can do better than this. To cap it all off, the previous store has offered to "loan" her money until next month but only on the condition that she goes to the old store, takes in a post dated cheque to repay the "loan" before they hand her the money. I told them that she will not go begging for her own money, will not go back to the previous store and will not hand them a post dated cheque but that she will give them a written receipt that she has received "money on account". They have refused to do this.

I sent an email to the address given to me by Head Office, outlining the grievances my daughter has had, the discrimination she has suffered, the hurt, loss of money etc. and giving them 7 days to respond fully, failing which my daughter would take Tesco's to an Employment Tribunal The answer I received was that the email address was wrong and that I should send it to her Store Manager. I replied stating that that address was given to me by Head Office, they should send it wherever they wanted and that their reply was my receipt that Tesco's had received this very serious communication.

Seeing the email address of Terry Leahy on this website, I sent him a long email, outlining this whole story, telling him that I had already sent an email to the Company regarding my daughter's intention to take his company to an Employment Tribunal and that my daughter is still waiting to hear where she stands with regards the permanence of the job now, etc. I will keep this site updated if I receive a reply to my original email or from Mr Leahy.

Concerned Mother


Al said...

I'm glad this has been added as a post rather than a comment now.

The treatment your daughter received is an absolute disgrace and Tesco as a company should be ashamed that their managers and representatives have allowed it to happen.

If you don't get any satisfactory reply to your email I would consider going to the wider media (newspapers etc.) with this as well as an employment tribunal. Check first that doing the former wouldn't hurt your case in the latter though.

Good luck with everything and hope your daughter gets everything that Tesco owes her as well as some extra compensation for the tax problem. At least then she can get back to enjoying her job.


Anonymous said...

Well a lot of information to digest in this one. I think your daughter certainly needs support here and you mention a number of staff that appear to respect and look after her well, I dont understand why she was not better represented from the beginning or had someone to help her through this.
A couple of things to bare in mind though, requests are often made to change hours to more sociable ones, unfortunately this is usually quite difficult in an envioronment that requires shifts through 24 hours Did your daughter start on these hours? and in a larger store you must remember that length of service can be a factor as to who gets considered first for a move. Less than 18 months is not long i'm afraid amongst possibly 150-200 checkout operators. Also i presume your daughter was happy to work the later shifts, maybe it was at Xmas or another busy period(?), certainly not unusual or even unreasonable in that case.
Also the ability to increase your hours is not always possible as this reduces the ability of the shifts being flexed to where there are needed at any particular time of year. I'm sure you would agree that Tesco cant have only nice shifts covered.

Much of what else you say I dont think can be commented on in this site as the right people aren't here to do so or reply to your experiences. I would be interested in how this ends up, although ultimately I hope your daughter is well treated.

TM said...

The last poster was spot on and goes to reinforce my comment in the original post I responded to.

Concerned Mother said...

TM My daughter was not taken on as a checkout person. When she was taken on, through Remploy, she was promised, as a Learning Disabled employee to be trained in various departments. The Personnel Manager at that time told me herself. Perhaps someone can explain how Tesco's works. Do employees shift between jobs, or are they stuck in one job. How do they select people to move about into different sections, etc. My point is that, having put her on checkouts, they asked her to do masses of overtime one year and when the manager changed, my daughter alone was not asked to do even one hour of overtime. Is this normal? I'm trying to discover more about Tesco's staffing policies. For example, when someone leaves, do they replace with existing staff who want the job and how do staff know when a vacancy has arisen and how to apply. My daughter always wanted to increase her hours, move between departments etc. and this was not made known to her.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a company responsible if discrimination, bullying, unfair treatment etc occurs? I don't think that individual store managers can be taken to an Employment Tribunal. So, I would have thought that Tesco must have a policy regarding Special Needs employees. Don't know if it has been mentioned that the DDA law states that in order to treat a Learning Disabled employee fairly they have to be treated differently. Doesn't sound as if this employee was assisted or helped although she seems to have been taking her part in doing the same work as everyone else. Also I believe that the company will have received a substantial amount of money from the Government for taking her on, which is given for the first 6 months which is meant to be used to train the employee. She doesen't appear to have received any training so perhaps Tesco will have to pay the money back to the government.

Anonymous said...

TM. What about the woman not receiving her salary? Is this normal. Not receiving your money and having to give a post dated cheque before you can get your own money. Have you any experience of this happening?

TM said...

If for any reason an employees wages were not paid into their account or it was wrong then it is quite common for Tesco to request a post dated cheque. Bascially, the employee will be given their wages in cash, but when the error is sorted out, the same wages will be credited to their account in the following pay period. When they recieve it into their account, they will pay the cash office back the money. The post dated cheque is taken in case the employee leaves the compnay before re-paying the cash etc. Once the wage query has been sorted out for the next pay period, if they don't pay the cash back, then they would have been payed twice in effect. In my expereince the majority of pay issues are due to staff not clocking in and out correctly.

TM said...

To Concerned Mother

Most staff will be generically interviewed then given a work sample for a couple of hours in the department they may be employed for. A work sample gives both the candidate and Tesco the opportunity to asses the suitability of them working in that department.

Once employed in a certain department they can be moved to working in other areas of the store, either on a temporary or permanent basis. This is stated in the employment contract as well, and a manager can make any reasonable request of an employee.

Sometimes internal vacancies are put on the notice board, in some situations you will be re-interviewed for different jobs.

Maybe there was an intention for your daughter to train in other departments, but the reality is, something like that won't always be possible. The manager's and staff are usually extremely busy so perhaps that right time had not occurred yet. To be perfectly honest, if I was asked to have someone train in my department I wouldn't be too pleased! Unless I needed another person to work in the department, there would be little point in training someone.

Al said...

I didn't realise the post dated cheque thing was policy, but then I never had any problems with being paid. Just as well really since I don't have a chequebook!

Staff are generally employed in one department, say checkouts, but can be asked to help out in other departments. It wouldn't be usual to have someone regularly work on different departments as part of their normal working week.

It is possible to change departments either by applying for internal vacancies or by being asked to (all but one of my department moves were from this). It is also possible to request a department transfer but they don't have to move you until there is a vancany on your chosen department and they may also ask that you wait until your replacement has been found.

Anonymous said...

I feel absolute disgust at your daughters treatment. I hope Tesco's are taken to Tribunal and your daughter receives a healthy sum of money. I am also glad to hear that she is again enjoying her work.

Concerned Mother said...

Thanks for the comments. I really have no idea of Tesco's employment policies. I've never worked in a shop or store and have no idea how they work. However, I'm interested but not able to help my daughter. Remploy receive Government funding to assist her but haven't involved themselves. Tesco also received Government money but didn't train her. She doesn't need support to work as she goes around working like the rest of you. However, people are getting government money to assist her in other areas and that's where the support should be, but isn't. Does any manager have experience of Special Needs staff and how they are supported at work?

TM said...

In most larger stores there will be at least one or two staff with some special needs or disabilities. Usually they are employed in a role that they can perform successfully and can get on with ok, so they go about their job just like anyone else in the store. Support can be given in different ways, for example, acknowledging they masy take a bit longer to complete certain tasks, needing assistance with a more physical aspect of a job. In some cases, special checkouts are installed so a wheel chair can fit behind it.

Anonymous said...

I dont believe a word of that!!!

Concerned Mother said...

Jed. Perhaps you will come across this when you are sober. Having complained to Mr Leahy personally and, separately to Tesco, I received a phone call today from my daughter's previous store. The young lady is ordering two sets of uniform for my daughter immediately, her two months salary is being made up and she will be able to collect it - no mention of post dated cheques and a meeting has been set up with a senior personnel manager for my daughter, me and the Union Area Rep. The outcome of that meeting will allow me to decide whether or not to take Tesco's to an Employment Tribunal for all the unresolved matters and the treatment meted out to her by her previous Store Manager. Perhaps then he will have to answer to Tesco Management and Board for his behaviour.

You called me a "matriarchial bitch". and stated that Tesco's were doing me a favour by taking my daughter off of my hands. It sounds to me that you were lacking in maternal input, not least in the "good manners" department or ensuring you had a good education and kept off the booze.

Concerned Mother

Jed said...

Concerned Mummy aka Matriachial bitch. I never drink, what makes you think that? It seems the wallers that run this piss pot of a site are editing and deleting my posts to make me angry.
Anyway I know your game lady, you have managed to screw more coin out of Tesco.

Good on ya.

tesco-complaint said...

Jed, While we did poke some fun at you by naming you inbred jed this was intended in a light hearted way and we apologise since it appears to have caused you offence - please feel free to use a different name.

We have no intention of making you angry or upset. The reason two of your posts were deleted is because they were similar to your other recent post "Inbred jed has questions" which wasn't deleted and also because these often contain foul language and we note you are then commenting on them anonymously. We have details of your email and IP address and are aware of each identity you have used (we would never publish this rest assured).

With regards to this post, you are right to be indignant that you have been labelled a drunk but you should realise you are upsetting a mother who has a learning disabled child whom she does her best for.

We have welcomed you to the site as we do anyone else. Thanks for reading.

Richard Eisner

Concerned Mother said...

Tesco Complaint have given you a very fair apology. I must say that my stating that you must be drunk when posting your comments was in fact giving you the benefit of your extremely rude outbursts being attributable to drink. It would seem that your problem is not alcohol related. So do you normally go round calling women you don't know Matriachial bitches, or am I the first you have come across?
"Anyway I know your game lady, you have managed to screw more coin out of Tesco". What exactly is my "game"?

I am talking about the law, company responsibility in relation to the law and in this case on this website Tesco's responsibility to its disabled staff. What are you talking about?

Jed said...

Ok lady I wont call you Matrichial bitch but you are the first I have come across thats for sure.
I am talkin about you lady.
Anways my sister is disabled and no one will give her a job.

Concerned Mother said...

Jed. Apply to Tesco's on her behalf. Your mother can accompany her at the interview as support. If your family are concerned, you should all be involved. Disabled people need lots of help, and it obviously starts with the family. Don't whinge - act!

Anonymous said...

I've worked at my local Tesco for over 17 years. I've been off sick regularly including a 2 year period when I required spine surgery. My store was very supportive and understanding. Reading your daughter's story, I felt like crying. I've been responsible for checkout training in my store, and I think I'd have been screaming and shouting with you if any of my trainees had treated anybody like that.I'd have recommended contacting the disability discrimination commission as well. I hope your daughter is getting treated a lot better at her new store and wish you both luck!

Anonymous said...

Concerned Mother,

As a manager for Tesco I have worked with wide ranging abilities within staff. from the down right lazy to those who sufer from crippling illness's.

Your description of your daughters treatment shocks me. There are policies in place for dealing with these issues.

wage advance - Post dated cheques are not required as Tesco debt recovery dept can chase for monies owed or these can be deducted at source from subsequant pay.

Another way is to get cheques issued from payroll and cash this instore and give employee the difference. However, doing this can cause other problems. Changing from BACS to cheque and back can throw up errors and incorrect/missing pay. My advice would be to ask the pm from new store to arrange for money to be collected from old store for your daughter.

After having conducted meetings which resulted in her being moved to a new store the old store could deal with new store direct as it sounds like your daughter is still ditressed with old store. I would hope that old store managers would not have done this to cause more distress and may just have not realised it was or wold be distressing.

There may have been oversights from one or more parties and I hope that you are able to remain emotionally detatched whilst dealing with this and look for the best for your daughter and not 'revenge' on previous issues.

I think you would agree that no one posting has anything but well wishes for your daughter and hope she continues to enjoy her new job.


Don't forget double clubcard points on green products :P
(go on... you know that made you smile a little)

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