Saying It’s been a tricky week for the Dazzler would be an understatement. He has really been through the mill but has remained incredibly brave and strong and I am so unbelievably proud to call him my husband.
A bit of background
The Dazzler has Dyslexia and Dyspraxia which means he has real problems reading and writing. When people say they are dyslexic you get an image in your head of someone who stumbles with spelling or writes the odd letter back to front but there is soo much more to it than that (which in itself is a whole other post!!) Lets just say the Dazzler is at the severe end of the scale.
He has had to struggle every day of his life just to get along. He has amazing coping strategies and until the last year has worked his entire life without signing on. I say he has struggled but he has also succeeded. He has been able to hold down not just a job, but a career, within the NHS, managed to get NVQ 3 in social care and has worked his way to his dream job working as a physiotherapists assistant.
I call it his dream job, and it was. He thought he had found a place which truly understood his disabilities, and was reassured by a manager who he truly respected and thought had his best interests at heart. Promises were made, outside organisations engaged, technology and strategies found to help overcome the problems he would face, so that he believed he would be truly equal. He was really good at it too, getting great feedback from colleagues and clients, It really did feel like a dream… but it turned into a nightmare!!
But what went wrong?
Sometimes with the best of intentions people can do the wrong thing – Its called making a mistake.
Now when you make a mistake it’s never a good thing. But when those mistakes affect someone you manage, you have a responsibility. When that person has a disability the responsibility is greater. It’s the reason the disability discrimination act exists, to protect those more vulnerable because they can’t see for themselves, or walk for themselves, or in this case read and write for themselves.
Darren’s employer made a mistake, in fact more than one. These mistakes led to him becoming increasingly stressed and eventually to him being told not to work by his doctor, a fellow medical professional. During this time Darren was trying to get better and was eventually diagnosed as suffering from generalised anxiety disorder.
One of the things to counter this was a new Medicinal regime and an exercise program. He met with his boss to discuss a return to work and even devised a phased return programme. All the while being given assurances by his boss that they would work with him to make coming back to work possible. It turns out that The Dazzlers boss was very good at talking the talk, but walking the walk was another matter.
I’ve digressed a little because I think the background is important but let’s get up to why my husband is so incredibly brave and strong. You see the Dazzler has just been through the ordeal of taking his employer to an employment tribunal.
So what mistakes did his employers make that led us to this?
They failed to follow through on basic promises, reasonable adjustments that would have made it possible for him to do his job, they then led him to believe every thing would be OK and glossed over these mistakes. When he finally plucked up the courage to return to work they gave him false hope that they could accommodate his needs and then failed to manage his expectations when they couldn’t.
He is the type of person that looks on the bright side of things but when they finally gave him news about a requested adjustment, forcing him to discuss his disability, in an open office in front of other people he quite literally went into shock. When he came home he broke down and was later signed off by his doctor. It was at this point that he decided to raise a grievance.
So what did Dazzler want out of this grievance? Nothing other than an apology from his employer about the way she treated him and the chance to carry on doing what he loved away from this boss who had let him down. You see he believes that when you make a mistake – you apologise for that mistake. It may not be easy but it is the right thing.
And what did he get? A token letter 6 months later to him apologising for offering him the “opportunity to hold the conversation in an open office”. At no time did she apologise for the mistakes she had made or the way she treated him. And what did his caring, professional employer do when he raised a grievance about his treatment? They started their absence management policy alongside his grievance, they offered him redeployment only to offer no support in doing so and a redeployment period shorter than their own policy dictated.
This all resulted in them terminating his employment based on capability, effectively ending not just his dream job, but his 12 year career in the NHS. So that’s how we got where we are today. He went away and licked his wounds but then realised that he didn’t want anyone else to go through what he did, so he decided to make a stand.
But none of this is the main reason I’m so proud of the Dazzler. It’s the way he handled himself over the last 3 days, making their expensive barrister look unprepared, incompetent and mean spirited whilst at the same time keeping a level of dignity his professional, qualified, experienced managers failed to muster.
In short He was Flabulous!!!!