Ex-soldier pursues Employment Tribunal disability discrimination claim after being nicknamed “hoppy”

hmctsA former soldier who was severely injured in combat has brought a claim for discrimination against his former colleagues after alleging that he was given derogatory names, including “hoppy”.

Ian Gibson, a former soldier in the British Army’s Parachute Regiment between 1971 and 1976,was injured whilst on active duty and was medically discharged in 1976 when he lost a kneecap in a conflict zone.

Mr Gibson commenced employment with H and G Contracting Services as a plane refueller in 2007, with his job involving removing manhole covers, connecting fuel lines to planes, and driving lorries. He underwent a knee replacement in 2010 and had surgery on her other knee in 2012, which made his job more difficult. After this he was offered a temporary admin role in the office but was told that this would not be made permanent.

The former soldier brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for direct disability discrimination and disability-related harassment against former colleagues at H and G Contracting Services after his former workmates made a number of allegedly offensive comments regarding his disability. Details of how Mr Gibson sustained his injuries are still protected under the Official Secrets Act 1989 and therefore could not be divulged in evidence at the tribunal.

The claim came to the Reading Employment Tribunal earlier this month, with Mr Gibson giving evidence that he had lodged a grievance in May 2014 regarding alleged discrimination and also alleged that he had been subjected to “horrible harassment” including:

  • Being accused by a colleague of “limping with the wrong leg”
  • That a former colleague had told him “I don’t know why you joined the Army. This f***ed up country, you must be f****ing stupid.”

Mr Gibson also stated to the Employment Tribunal: “I suffered bullying and harassment and discrimination as a result of my disability.”

Neither Mr Gibson nor H and G Contracting Services have commented on the ongoing Employment Tribunal claim.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to ensure that their employees are properly trained in their equality and diversity policies and that any complaints (whether informal or formal) of bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation are dealt with promptly and fairly. A failure to deal with these matters promptly or fairly can potentially lead to expensive, stressful and time-consuming Employment Tribunal proceedings, as it has here.”

The Tribunal continues and a judgment is expected to be given in May 2015.