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Ian’s story

A St Helens man has secured £24,000 in compensation thanks to Unite and Thompsons Solicitors after being unfairly dismissed and discriminated against based on a long term shoulder injury he suffered whilst with the same employer.

Ian Trantum, a 61-year-old former production operative from Merseyside, worked for Univar – a global chemical and ingredients distributor that employed him at its Widnes site – and was told he was selected for redundancy. He was told it was due to him scoring the lowest number of points on an employee skills criterion.

In May 2016, while working for Univar, Mr Trantum had been involved in an accident that left him with a serious long-term shoulder injury, which he now receives regular medical treatment for.

The injury and the long-term disability it led to required his employers to make adjustments when he returned to work in the summer of 2016, removing any manual duties. The adequacy of these adjustments would later form a large part of the dispute between the parties around his redundancy in 2020.

Fast-forward to April 2020, and Mr Trantum was placed on furlough due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. In July 2020, when Univar started bringing staff back to work Mr Trantum wasn’t included – and he and four colleagues were informed that their jobs as production operatives were at risk, as they were planning to reduce the team by one.

A month later, Mr Trantum was told by his boss at Univar that he had scored the lowest number of points based on a skills criterion – a criterion which had not made allowances for his disability - and that he had been selected for redundancy.

He appealed the decision on the grounds that Univar had not made reasonable adjustments to allow him to perform his work duties with his shoulder injury.

Univar maintained that because it was forced to make staff cutbacks, there was less scope for implementing mitigating adjustments, that they had made a reasonable number of adjustments and could not justify making any more.

Mr Trantum turned to Unite the union and Thompsons Solicitors to make a legal claim. In June 2022, the parties reached an agreement on settlement terms.

Mr Trantum said: “This was a highly avoidable situation and I do feel like I was singled out for redundancy for all the wrong reasons. I was told that I would receive a point on the skills criterion for duties I could perform before my injury – in reality, this didn’t happen.

“I can’t thank Jamie Humphries and the legal team at Thompsons enough. They were excellent throughout my claim, in a case that proved incredibly complex. They were professional, sincere, empathetic, and kept me well informed.”

Mr Trantum was also full of praise for Unite and the regional officer, Andrew Johnson. He said: “Unite was fantastic. I can’t believe how good they were in supporting me with the workplace representation in 2020 and then backing me up again with legal assistance to bring an employment tribunal claim. I’d 100 per cent recommend joining Unite to anyone.”

Employers need to properly consider how selection criteria can cause unfair disadvantage to disabled workers.

Jamie Humphries, employment rights solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors

Jamie Humphries, a principal employment rights lawyer at Thompsons’ Manchester office, added: "Employers need to properly consider how selection criteria can cause unfair disadvantage to disabled workers.

“They also need to reflect on whether it is reasonable to take positive steps to avoid the dismissal of the disabled worker, and if a competitive process is the right course when considering other positions for an employee with a disability.

“It may well be reasonable when a suitable alternative position becomes available for the disabled worker to be offered the position - in effect treating them more favourably than non-disabled candidates.”