Work advice

I am a teacher and since diagnosis 4+ years ago I have gradually reduced my work hours through necessity.

The past couple of years haven’t been overly kind to me with 6 hospital visit last year alone and 1 this year - having said that, I always fight my way back to work because I love it so much.

Is this discrimination: I am a secondary school teacher. My Head of department has, for the 2nd year running now, given me a timetable that doesn’t have any of the exam groups/higher ability groups. This has only happened since he came to the school. I am not new to teaching having done it for 10 years, I am experienced and more than capable as I always have been. However, I am now deemed ‘not good enough’ it appears.

I questioned my Head of department about it today and he said it was because I had had long absences from work. I told him that I am well now and he could break his leg tomorrow or I could be ill; we have no way of knowing. I told him despite this fact he cannot stop me teaching these groups because I have MS.

He muddled his way through the conversation and ever since I have been fuming!

Do I bring it up with the Head Master and use the discrimation card or do I go along with it and, as my partner tells me, stay quiet and enjoy the slightly less stressful timetable?

Many thanks in advance,


Aww Sally I sympethise. Whilst I can’t answer your question (although I will wait with interest to see what advice you get!) I can at least tell you that you are not alone and the same thing has recently happened to me so I will tell you my story. I am ( sorry was :frowning: ) an exceutive chef in a busy pub. I am self employed, but I have worked for the managers for about 7 years. They know about my condition. I have had NO time of since my diagnosis, even working through several mild relapses. Due to being self empl, I can’t take time off as I get no sick pay. I had relapse recently that made me numb from the chest down, fatigue and my left hand and arm were numb, but I still worked on. As I drove to work one morning, a rash appeared on my neck and looked quite nasty so I went into work and showed my boss and said I had better go home as I don’t know wether it was contagious or not. So I took off half a day. Came in the hnext morning, and was told by my boss that her and her friend (?) were talking and have decided that I can’t do my job any more as I forgot to order some apple sauce, therefore my MS is affecting my work and I am demoted from immediate affect and the other chef who had only been there a month was taking over the position. And then she bought her in, whilst I sat and cried. Most humiliating. And the other chef has been in the position a short time and has forgotten to order so much each week. She keeps asking me for my advice on stuff and I am getting mighty pissed off about it. So I am now, like you, wondering if I can call discrimination on this? Xxx

This is a personal view using a little knowledge. I think we have 2 different occurrences here; jws I think you would have a problem proving discrimination. : The employer has a right to move you to an easier position or give you less of a workload if it is recommended for your health.

Amanda it seems entirely different and looks like a clear case of discrimination.

I suggest both of you ring the Equality and Human Rights Commission who will not only give you professional advice but take your employers to Tribunal if they feel you have a case; at their expense.

Good luck


Have you been passed over for promotion, have your career prospects been harmed by this action? Maybe not? My first reaction would be - it would gall me that someone else had presumed to make allowances for my condition without discussing it with me first or without good reason. however on the other hand, if you have had lots of absences, it maybe makes better sense from school’s point of view to have the higher ability groups where the higher pressure is covered by someone who is more likely to be there consistently. This isn’t discrimination - though you may feel it is unjustified and not what you would like - just good organisational sense. I am sure the school come under pressure from parents to get good results…

From the point of view of your health, your partner may have a point - you maybe can do without the added pressure right now. maybe your h o d was being considerate - though maybe a discussion with you might have been appropriate.

I think in a review I would maybe calmly reflect to him/her that you are disappointed not to have this opportunity though you accept the school’s reasons for allocating things this way.

There are managers who genuinely believe that it is helpful to give someone with m.s. a reduced work load out of ‘kindness.’

There are others who don’t think that someone with m.s. can do the job as well as someone who hasn’t got m.s.

The question you have to ask is yourself is ‘am I able to do the job satisfactorily?’

If the answer is yes then you have to tackle your line managers and be quite forceful about what you want. They will be aware of the existence of a law about discrimination but they are unlikely to know the full ins and outs of it. Mention of the word discrimination should bring them to their senses.

Sally, you go to your head of department initially and explain nicely!! to him/her that you feel you are being discriminated against because you have m.s. with the classes you have been given. You have to show that you are being treated unfairly compared to others.The ball is then in his/her court and either he/she does nothing or you get what is fair. If you feel you are treated unfairly you go to the head and mention discrimination on the grounds you have m.s.

You have to convey to head of dept and head that you will not put up with things as they are. My guess is they will change things -

The important thing is that you will have to be forceful and fight your corner - the law is on your side.