Dyslexic employee wins case against Starbucks on grounds of discrimination

An employment tribunal has found in favour a woman, who was wrongly accused by her employer, Starbucks, of falsifying documents, when she had simply misread numbers she was responsible for recording as a result of dyslexia.

Meseret Kumulchew, the employee, will receive damages of an amount to be determined later in a separate hearing. Ms Kumulchew, who is still employed by Starbucks, said she had made her bosses aware of her dyslexia.

The tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Ms Kumulchew’s reading difficulties under the Equality Act, 2010. It said the company showed little or no understanding of equality issues.

Kate Saunders, the chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, said Ms Kumulchew’s plight highlighted a common problem. “All organisations must make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities, including dyslexia, under the Equality Act. They should have appropriate policies in place and make sure these are movements to avoid discrimination, including in the recruitment process, the work environment and colleague reactions,” she said.

Starbucks said it could not discuss the case as it was still in negotiation with Ms Kumulchew, In a statement it said: “We have been working with the British Dyslexia Association on improving the support we provide to our employees, and did so concerning Meseret Kumulchew in 2015. We recognise however that we need to do more, which is why we are investigating what additional support we can provide.”

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