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Vision-Impaired IT Worker Wins Discrimination Case.

A vision impaired IT professional has been has been awarded 12,000 Euros compensation by an industrial tribunal in Ireland after it was accepted that a recruitment process used by multinational company Siemens discriminated against job applicants with disabilities.

The Labour Court in Dublin concluded that Martin O’Sullivan ‘was denied an opportunity to undertake an integral and otherwise integral part of the selection process because of his disability. This meant that the whole selection process was tainted with discrimination’.

For O’Sullivan, the hearing concludes a two-and-a-half year struggle to show that the recruitment process used by Siemens discriminated against vision-impaired applicants because of their disability, in contravention of Ireland’s Employment Equality Act.

In November 2004, O’Sullivan applied for a position as an IT Support Specialist with Siemens. Applicants were required to complete a written assessment and attend an interview, but O’Sullivan’s request for a copy of the written test in an accessible electronic format was refused. “Instead they asked me some questions at the interview. The questions which they asked me at the interview were not as comprehensive as those which were given to applicants who undertook the written test. I formed the opinion that this would place me at a disadvantage when it came to assessing my application for the position,” he told E-Access Bulletin.

When O’Sullivan was told that his application had been unsuccessful he phoned Siemens to find out more. “I was certain that I had been discriminated against, so I contacted them . . . to enquire as to whether or not my vision impairment was the factor by which they decided not to give me the job. They replied ‘Yes’,” said O’Sullivan.

Now working for IBM on its Easy Access Web Project, O’Sullivan told E-Access Bulletin that the time taken to resolve the issue was the most troubling aspect of pursuing Siemens. “I did not find the experience [of being cross-examined] very stressful. The only thing which was frustrating about it was the length of time it took. Almost two and a half years to complete,” he said.


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