Brewdog employee wins payout over unfair dismissal

A former employee of Brewdog has won a £12,000 payout after the reporting of a deteriorating loss of eyesight led to his permanent suspension.

BrewDog founders Martin Dickie and James Watt

As reported by the BBC, James Ross, 47, took the craft brewer to an employment tribunal after he lost his position in packaging at the Aberdeenshire brewery.

After Ross reported an increasing loss of vision in 2016, the brewery decided that his presence at the facility posed a risk to health and safety to the team. BrewDog offered Ross an alternative computing role, which he said would have been harder to maintain with impaired eyesight, leading him to lose his job at the brewery.

The tribunal said it was “concerned” that managers had no knowledge of the need to make adjustments for disabled people under the Equality Act, stating that only “lip service” was paid to the brewery’s duty to make adjustments.

A BrewDog spokesperson said: “This was a really difficult situation for every member of our team involved in it, and clearly for the tribunal panel too as their decision on the outcome was split.

“We worked with James in order to find a suitable alternative role within the business where his safety would not be compromised, but James wanted to keep his packaging role.

“We ended up in a position where we had to balance James’ wishes with the best interests of the team around him, and while we regret that an agreement couldn’t be reached, we have a moral responsibility to prioritise the safety of our team.

“We are really sorry that this situation has ended this way and wish James all the best in his new role and upcoming studies.”

RNIB Scotland, which supports blind and partially sighted people, had suggested adaptations that could be made to allow him to continue.

“Many employers still assume this group would be difficult or even impossible to employ,” it said. “We know of journalists, teachers, bankers and physicists working in Scotland with sight loss. It’s about encouraging employers to focus on what people are able to do, not what they can’t.”

Ross was awarded £12,052.

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