Judge rules people with dyslexia shouldn't be made to turn up on time

People with dyslexia shouldn’t be forced turn up to work on time, employment judge rules

  • Raymond Joseph Bryce complained of discrimination against bosses at new job
  • He said condition meant he was ‘disorganised’ and often misread his alarm clock

People with dyslexia should not be forced to turn up to work on time, an employment judge has ruled, after a security guard accused his bosses of discrimination.

Raymond Joseph Bryce said he had been discriminated against after he told bosses his dyslexia meant he ‘would be late for his own funeral’.

He said his condition meant he was ‘disorganised’ and that he often misread his alarm clock in the morning. 

Mr Bryce insisted he would always be late and asked his managers for ‘leeway’ in turning up 15 or 20 minutes late, but after a a string of incidents they instead abruptly stopped offering him shifts.

The security guard, from Stafford, West Midlands, accused them of discrimination and a failure to make reasonable adjustments for his disability.

Raymond Joseph Bryce said he had been discriminated against after he told bosses his dyslexia meant he ‘would be late for his own funeral’

Mr Bryce’s claims have now been upheld by an employment tribunal in Nottingham, which concluded his dyslexia made it ‘difficult’ for him to wake up early, plan ahead, and read the time. He is now in line for compensation.

The panel heard Mr Bryce began doing shift work for Sentry Consulting Ltd, a private security firm, in December 2020 at the old Derby Royal Infirmary site in Derby.

But he was late on three occasions over the next three weeks, prompting his managers to call him in for a meeting.

Mr Bryce blamed his dyslexia and the time of year as the weather was ‘cold, frosty, and snowy’, so travel could be disrupted.

Giving evidence to the panel, he said: ‘I will always be late with my disability. I’m not intentionally late. I will try to be on time [but] no matter how I plan it fails. I’m going to be late for my own funeral.

‘I’m late for everything. I don’t foresee danger… I’m like a rabbit in the headlights.’

Mr Bryce explained his dyslexia meant he often reads the numbers wrong on his digital alarm clock, and resultantly believes he has more time.

He said he struggled to wake up early for shifts and that the long hours made him feel ‘overwhelmed’.

The security guard also claimed he had to give his brain time to start working ‘like a computer’ after it has been switched on.

Mr Bryce, who has Asperger’s Syndrome as well, claimed that he sticks to ‘inflexible routines’ and that his anxiety ‘goes through the roof’ if he breaks them.

The panel, led by employment judge Rachel Broughton, ruled in favour of his claim of discrimination arising from a disability.

They also supported his complaint that the firm failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate this disability.

The panel ruled that Sentry Consulting saw Mr Bryce’s ‘timekeeping’ as a problem and did not offer him further shifts after he requested ‘flexibility over his start times’.

Judge Broughton said: ‘We conclude that [Mr Bryce’s] disabilities had a number of long term effects on his normal day to day activities. He was inhibited in his ability to read, write and understand information.

‘[Mr Bryce] sometimes misread times such as times on his digital clock. He described how he relies on a digital and analogue alarm clock to wake him.

‘He has an analogue in the kitchen or bathroom and a digital to wake him up but he finds it difficult to read the numbers and can sometimes misread them and this can impact on his time keeping.

‘[He] was impaired in his ability to keep to a timetable and plan for potential factors such as traffic and weather conditions and thus is often not able to arrive on time for events and engagements.

‘He found it difficult to wake and get ready for work on time particularly for early shifts. He would suffer significant anxiety if he was late. He compared his cognitive functioning in the mornings to setting up a computer and he described needing more time to start processing properly than those without his disabilities.’

She added: ‘The problems he had with his timekeeping and ability to plan were more than a trivial influence on the treatment he received. We find that it was in fact the main reason for the decision not to offer him more shifts.’

The tribunal found that the site did need to be manned at all times to ensure its security but this needed to be balanced ‘against the discriminatory impact on the disabled person’.

It ruled that the firm could, for example, have accommodated Mr Bryce’s request for ‘flexi hours’ and leeway to turn up 15 to 30 minutes later on occasion if they’d offered him weekend shifts, potentially at another site.

Mr Bryce’s separate claim of direct disability discrimination was rejected.

A further hearing will now decide what compensation he is owed.

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