NI takeaway worker with autism to receive £8,000 payout in case against chip shop

Oisín McKerr
Claimant Oisín McKerr was let go from his job via text -Credit:Arthur Allison

A chip shop worker with autism has settled his disability discrimination case against a Co Armagh takeaway, Mak's Plaice for £8000. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported the complaint brought forward by Oisín McKerr.

Oisín, who was still at school, had applied for his first part-time job at the takeaway shop and declared his autism on his application. He was overjoyed when offered the position.

In January 2023, a few months into his role, Oisín was told that it was a quiet time for the shop, but he might see more hours by March. However, the following week, Oisín received a text instructing him to collect his final paycheck and return his uniform.

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The confusion arose because Oisín wasn't aware he had been let go from his job.

Mary Kitson, the Senior Legal Officer for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, commented: "Employees with autism have protections under the Disability Discrimination Act. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities."

Mary Kitson added: "Good support from any employer is key to successful employment for a person with autism and effective communication is central to this support."

Explaining how the incident impacted upon him, Oisín McKerr said: "I was really pleased to get the job in the chip shop. I thought I was doing well. I didn't know there were any problems, nobody told me. I didn't know I had been dismissed. I was really upset when I realised I wouldn't be working there anymore and saw they were recruiting new people.

"I wish they had spoken to me and explained it. I would have listened; I would have done as they asked. I wasn't given the chance to explain my autism and to improve. I'm glad this is all over now and I've found a new job where I do feel supported and valued."

The case was settled without admission of liability and the company affirmed its commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in employment and agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to review its equal opportunities policies, procedures and practices.

The company regrets any injury to feelings, distress or upset felt by Oisín.

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