Tribunal finds Bury Subway franchise discriminated against worker with autism

Andrew Everitt with his son Bradley  ANL-161219-190258009
Andrew Everitt with his son Bradley ANL-161219-190258009

An autistic man was awarded £15,484 by an Employment Trubunal after it ruled he had suffered discrimination because of his condition.

Andrew Everitt, 25, from Bury St Edmunds,is glad the tribunal backed him but says his confidence was hit by the way he was treated by Regal Consultancy, an Ilford company which holds the franchise to Bury’s Subway takeaway.

He said: “I still don’t really want to go back to work because of the way they treated me. I’m scared another company will treat me the same.

“I want a job where I feel comfortable and able to support my family. I don’t have any qualifications so it’s hard for me to get into some professions.”

Of getting sacked, he said: “I was kind of happy because I felt really bullied toward the end and didn’t want to work there anymore. I didn’t realise they were going to cause a lot of anxiety later on.”

The tribunal judgement said there were ‘fundemental differences’ in evidence from the two sides, but it acknowledged Mr Everitt’s autism made it difficult for him to even invent stories for his five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. It adds that Regal’s witnesses were ‘lacking in credibility’

Mr Everitt previously worked at Newmarket Subway and moved to Bury branch in October 2014 after showing the manager a report on his autism which she ‘glanced at’ though the company later disputed being told of his autism.

Mr Everitt was promoted to team leader but asked to be demoted and was refused.

The judgement says he arrived at work at 6.30am on October 19, 2015, to find out of date and defrosted food left out by the last shift. He had to get the shop open, so he left it to deal with later, but at 9am a Subway inspector arrived and the store failed its inspection.

At his disciplinary hearing, which he went to alone, the judgement says he told the owners he would not do things their way, which the tribunal accepted referred to relabelling out-of-date food which he claimed the Bury branch did.

He received a dismissal letter, though the worker who left the food out only got a warning. Mr Everitt appealed and was offered the job back, but felt too ‘bullied’ to accept.

Mr Everitt was supported by the anti-discrimination charity Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality whose discrimination advisor Sallie Davies said: “This victory is a testament to his strength of character. It was a blatant case of disability discrimination to dismiss someone with autism while someone without autism only gets a verbal warning.

“It should encourage others living with autism not to accept the lazy prejudice of employers who will not recruit or employ those with disabilities and who, when faced with a disabled employee, fail to put in place adjustments which allow that employee to continue working.“

The BFP was unable to contact Regal Consultancy.

A Subway spokeswoman said: “The Subway brand is committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment and does not condone discrimination of any kind.

“All stores are independently owned and operated by franchisees who handle all staffing matters.

“We require franchisees to follow all local and country laws, including those relating to food safety, and regularly carry out inspections of stores to ensure these standards are being met.”