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Worker In Wheelchair Nicknamed ‘Ironside’ By Boss Gets £6000 From Tribunal

October 19, 2010

A worker in a wheelchair who was nicknamed ‘Ironside’ after the disabled 1970s TV detective has won a £6,000 payout for his ‘violated dignity’.

Ironically, the ill-advised quip was made by a manager at Remploy, the firm whose
purpose is to help people with disabilities return to work.

Employee Brian Davies took the company to a tribunal after finding out that he was being referred to as ‘Ironside’ behind his back.

While the television series starring Raymond Burr as the investigator paralysed by a sniper’s bullet has been hailed for its positive representation of wheelchair-users, Mr Davies complained he found the name offensive.

Despite claims that he had acted in a ‘belligerent and threatening’ manner, the tribunal found in his favour.

Mr Davies, who has brittle bone disease and was made an MBE in 2000 for services to disabled people, welcomed his award, saying he felt he had been treated with ‘contempt’.

‘I’ve used a wheelchair all my life, and when I was a kid I got called “Ironside” as well as “cripple”, and I hated it,’ he said.

‘But this is the 21st century and adults don’t go around calling each other silly and derogatory nicknames like that.

‘I found it insulting and belittling to be referred to as “Ironside” at work.’

Mr Davies, a divorced father-of-three from Wigan, has worked for Remploy for 30 years, originally as a machinist but now as a full-time representative of the GMB union although he is still paid by the Government-supported firm.

Last year he found out that Steve Wellens, the manager of one of the plants for which he was responsible, the Burnley packaging factory, habitually referred to him as ‘Ironside’ in front of other employees.

He complained to Remploy, but even though it disciplined the manager, Mr Davies took the firm to a tribunal demanding compensation.

At the hearing in Manchester, Remploy argued that Mr Davies often used foul and aggressive language and that he could not have been seriously offended by being called Ironside.

But employment judge John Sherratt concluded: ‘We find that his dignity was violated.
‘If someone uses what might be considered offensive language it does not mean that the person cannot reasonably be offended by remarks relating to him and his disability.’

Mr Wellens, a father of two, said: ‘I’m not happy with the verdict. I feel a bit hard done by.’

A spokesman for Remploy said: ‘We accept the tribunal’s decision and apologise to Mr Davies.’

2 Comments leave one →
  1. alan hudson permalink
    October 21, 2010 3:32 pm

    I worked at this factory, the manager “BULLIED” all employees regardless of their disability.
    I stood up to him and he then tried to make my life miserable at work for a couple of years, he eventually had me accused of bullying and I was dismissed.
    I went to my solicitor as I wasn’t a union member and they helped get my name cleared.
    Bullies are COWARDS! and I’m not a coward!!!!!!

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