Bus Driver with Crohn’s Disease Awarded £29k After Soiling Himself at Work

In XYZ v Midland Red South Ltd, a bus driver with Crohn’s disease has been awarded over £28,000. This came after the employment tribunal ruled there was a failure to make reasonable adjustments, causing the bus driver to soil themself at work. Below, we explore what happened in the case and the employment tribunal’s judgment.

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The Facts in XYZ v Midland Red South Ltd


XYZ (“The Claimant”) is a bus driver with Crohn’s disease who’s worked for Midland Red South Ltd (“The Respondent”) for over 30 years. Due to the sensitive medical information discussed, it was agreed the claimant would remain anonymous, hence being called ‘XYZ’. 

Bus Driver with Crohn’s Disease Requests Reasonable Adjustments

On 20 April 2016, the claimant attended an occupational health appointment, where a subsequent report outlined the claimant’s condition. Due to the long-term and substantial health problems, which may include diarrhoea, the report recommended several adjustments, including:

  • Reasonably predictable shift patterns that enable the claimant to have his tablets along with three meals a day 
  • Regular toilet break access
  • Shifts that typically don’t run past eight hours in duration

The report added that if the claimant was forced out of routine, he could experience unpredictable urges to use the toilet. As a result, on 26 April, the claimant made a flexible working request. Following this, the respondent confirmed he would receive a fixed shift pattern. Should they change, he was ensured the shift’s start, finish and break times would remain regular.

Respondent Fails to Meet Claimant’s ‘Three Criteria’

In the years following the occupational health report, the bus driver with Crohn’s disease made numerous grievances. He’d been unhappy with his allocated inappropriate shifts, and on various occasions, the respondent said they would resolve the matter. This included satisfying the claimant’s ‘three criteria’ by providing regular toilet breaks, consistent finish times and eight-hour shifts.

However, the tribunal learned the respondent had repeatedly allocated shifts that didn’t meet the three criteria in January-March 2022. For example, on one occasion, the claimant received a shift with the first break coming five hours after it began. He requested an alternative shift, with a break just under three hours after it commenced, but this was rejected. The respondent reasoned they were required to be “fair to other drivers” concerning shift allocations.

Lack of Adjustments Causes Bus Driver with Crohn’s Disease to Soil Himself

Following a meeting in February, the bus driver with Crohn’s disease worked more appropriate shifts in April. Yet, the unsuitable shift allocation occurred again in June-August, failing to comply with his three criteria. As a result of such shifts, the claimant soiled himself.

Subsequently, the claimant took the respondent to an employment tribunal. First, he claimed they had failed to make reasonable adjustments in respect of his condition. Second, he alleged harassment in the workplace due to continuously having to discuss his condition with the respondent to request adjustments. He explained this gave him a “huge amount of humiliation”.

The Employment Tribunal’s Judgment

Ruling on the Harassment Claim

During the hearing, the respondent acknowledged that the claimant’s condition amounted to an Equality Act 2010 disability. Sometime after this had been established, the employment tribunal addressed the harassment claim. 

They stated that since the claimant felt humiliated at continuously having to bring up his condition when requesting adjustments, this was “clearly unwanted conduct”. Furthermore, because his condition caused the adjustment requests, they held the unwanted conduct was related to his disability. 

Lastly, despite finding that the conduct didn’t have the purpose of humiliating the bus driver with Crohn’s disease, they believed it reasonable to give this effect. As such, they ruled his harassment claim was well-founded and succeeded.

Decision Concerning Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments

Moving on, the tribunal deliberated over the claim concerning the respondent’s failure to make reasonable adjustments. Here, they explained that the respondent only has a duty to make such adjustments if they are aware of the disability and its substantial disadvantage on the employee.

They went on to outline how the respondent received a medical report in 2016 outlining the claimant’s condition. As mentioned, the report highlighted his required adjustments and the potential consequences of not receiving them. As such, the tribunal stated the respondent had the necessary knowledge, legally obligating them to provide appropriate adjustments.

Then, the tribunal discussed how the unsuitable shifts put the claimant at a substantial disadvantage. This conclusion was drawn from the fact that the shifts caused him to soil himself. They explained that a non-disabled bus driver (the comparator) wouldn’t have soiled himself during the shift’s completion. In light of this, they felt the claimant should’ve automatically received shifts that satisfied his three criteria without having to ask. 

The respondent attempted to argue that commercial demands and other factors made it impossible to meet the claimant’s requirements fully. But the tribunal ruled this not to be the case. They drew attention to the respondent wanting to be “fair to other drivers” during shift allocation despite their legal obligation to the claimant.

As a result, they ruled the respondent had failed to provide reasonable adjustments and awarded the claimant £28,819.18. This comprised £25,000 for injury to feelings and  £3,819.18 for interest.

Have You Faced Something Similar to the Bus Driver with Crohn’s Disease?

If you have experienced harassment or haven’t received the reasonable adjustments you’re entitled to, contact Redmans Solicitors today. We are specialists in the employment law sector and can advise you on your possible next steps.

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