There are many things I am unaccustomed to. A few of those things is an overwhelming sense and feeling of anger, frustration and injustice.
I have been discriminated against on mental health grounds.
It does not matter if you are of a different race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, creed, gender or as in my case having mental health issues. Discrimination is a horrible and bitter thing to happen to ones self.
For many, many months I have worked hard to prove to the Driving & Vehicle Licensing Agency [DVLA] that I am fit and well enough to have my Bus and Coach license returned to me. Continually proving I am stable, steady and well enough to earn my driving licenses. Spending, actually investing is a better term, money I do not have and having to find the patience to wait and wait and wait for things to happen. Well after 2 medicals (the first was botched by the doctor but thats another story) and jumping through proverbial fiery hoops I have finally been re-issued what is called my vocational licenses thus proving to myself and the wider world that I am indeed fit, well and ready to return to work in the transport industry.
When I received the news from the DVLA I was so happy I very nearly cried. It was out of frustration and relief. The thought that entered my mind was I can finally earn my keep in the world, I can put back in to the system instead of relying on the system to exist.
With this I put an application in to who I shall call my Preferred Employer or simply the Company and the reason why I’ve called them that is
(1) for legal reasons I CANNOT name the company and give them ammunition against me for libel or prejudice any legal proceedings that may occur.
(2) It’s exceedingly poor taste no matter how much it would feel good to name and shame the business in question.
I put in to my preferred employer immediately on the advice of a friend. For 6 or 7 weeks I called every week to see how my application was progressing. Then finally last week I got the news I was hoping for, they invited me in to their offices for an assessment. I sat the various tests set out before me- tests of english, maths, logic and driver theory. Standard stuff.
Then this week I received an email. Sorry, but you can not proceed, good luck in your endeavours.
This is not a problem, when looking for work expect knock backs – I’m not the brightest person, I’d be the first to admit that. So I let my support worker at the Veterans Job Club know and then they suggested I call my preferred employer and ask for feedback.
Which I did. However there was nobody available to talk to me. Strange I thought, so I contacted someone I could name in the company. A while later I received a call from a manager and he told me the reason why I did not get the job. The reason left me dumbfounded and my jaw on the floor.
The reason had been because I had been ill with mental health issues – namely Bipolar Disorder – from 6 years previously.
I pointed out that the company was discriminating against me. Their reply was just –
No, we’re not.
I was apoplectic with rage. Absolutely fuming with incandescent anger. How dare this company use my medical history of mental health issues from the distant past to discriminate against me. What are they expecting? a two-headed fire breathing monster? the incredible hulk? or a hostage situation? No on all counts. I really had to bite my tongue.
So I sort counsel of friends who knew about this type of discrimination. And I was advised me to contact Acas, the employment conciliator. Who in turn advised me of what I could do and the process I could take against this company.
First step is to write a letter of grievance. I got help and guidance from the Citizens Advice Bureau to draft it. Next step, if I’m not happy or satisfied with their reply then Acas can appoint a conciliator. The final step is a Tribunal. I don’t want it to go that far if I can help it.
The lady who helped draft it said something very interesting- I not just doing this for me. I was fighting for all the people who couldn’t fight.
I even contacted the Disability Legal Service who after briefing them of what had occurred and they said it was a case “direct discrimination” but they couldn’t represent me if it went to tribunal due to budgetary restrictions.
When the Grievance letter was ready I dispatched them and I made sure it went to certain places or certain personalities with in the company-
- Human Resources
- The Company Director
- The Company Chair
There was a strange satisfaction at sending those letters, I don’t know exactly why but it felt good to be taking action. It must be the army veteran in me wanting to take action. Now all I can do is wait 14 calendar days for their response to the letter.
Unfortunately I don’t think me or the company in question will come out in this senecio with any glory. Any victory I attain will be a hollow one. I’ll still be unemployed and I’ll still have been discriminated against for my mental health.
It’s a bitter thing to discriminated against over something you have little or no control over like mental health issues.