A dyslexic Marks and Spencer worker has won more than £50,000 after losing her job following concerns about mistakes in her emails.
Rita Jandu, who worked for the company for more than two decades, struggled to read and write lengthy messages and preferred to communicate using bullet points.
She was “singled out” by bosses who selected her for redundancy for appearing to rush her work and repeated inaccuracies in her emails and other written work, a hearing was told.
The tribunal ruled M&S managers ignored the impact her dyslexia had on her work including her ability to concentrate and communicate.
Ms Jandu has now successfully sued the retailer for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal and has won £53,855 in compensation.
The hearing in central London was told Ms Jandu began at M&S as an Assistant Buyer and worked her way up to the position of Clothing and Home planner over a period of 22 years.
She had a longstanding diagnosis of dyslexia, which her employers were aware of, and struggled with notetaking, writing emails, and writing as people were speaking. She also had trouble concentrating.
In 2019, despite her dyslexia impacting her work, she was told by her manager she was “one of the high performers on the team”.
However, she was also told, “sometimes communications appear rushed and not thought through before you send.” At the tribunal, Ms Jandu attributed this to her dyslexia.
In July 2020, during the pandemic, M&S began to consult on the redundancy options for the company. Staff were rated on several criteria to determine who would be let go.
The tribunal heard that if Ms Jandu had scored one more point in the process, she would have been safe.
In August, she was told her position was at risk of redundancy, and she became “too upset” to apply for the other vacancies bosses suggested.
Ms Jandu said she felt “singled out” and that it was “unfair and unjust” because she suspected there was “unconscious bias” related to her dyslexia.
The company’s notes on her redundancy read: “Rita’s performance is good, but there have been question marks over her consistency and accuracy.
“Rita was ranked accordingly and makes more inconsistent errors than others on the team.
“Others on the team are consistently more proactive, with a higher standard of plans.”
Ms Jandu was made redundant in October 2020 and appealed this decision internally, raising her concerns around her dyslexia, but she was told this had not affected the process.
After her appeal failed, in January she brought to tribunal claims of discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments, unfair dismissal and victimisation.
All her claims except victimisation succeeded, and she was awarded compensation.
Employment judge Holly Stout said: “In this case, [her manager] allowed her perception that [Ms Jandu] was prone to ‘rushing’ and ‘inaccuracies’ to count against her. These were things caused by her disability.
“We therefore consider that [M&S] had come under a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
“The adjustment proposed by [Ms Jandu] is that [M&S] should have discounted any disability-related effects when assessing [her] against the redundancy selection criteria.
“We agree that this would have been a reasonable adjustment.”
Additional reporting by agencies