Speed ​​camera van operator loses court case over time over MMA training – The Irish Times

A radar van operator who said his mental health was affected by obesity has lost a discrimination claim for being denied changes to his roster to allow him to undergo MMA training.

The man told the Workplace Relations Commission that he went ahead and started the training program without waiting for approval – and it ultimately ‘saved his life’.

Desmond Murphy has brought legal action against Road Safety Operations Ireland Unlimited, as Go Safe, alleging he has been discriminated against because of his disability – specifically mental health and obesity – at the point that he had been forced to resign.

Mr Murphy told the WRC the problem arose when he had the opportunity to undergo a weight loss program in January 2020 which required him to train from 6.30am to 7.30am, five days a week .

The ‘Winter Warriors’ course was described to the company by Mr Murphy as ‘a white-collar MMA mixed martial arts charity event’ that would run for 20 weeks, an arbitration hearing heard in February.

Mr Murphy testified that his mental health had been affected by high body weight which he had since managed to reduce “significantly”.

The training time necessitated a shift change and Mr Murphy said he was told not to start the course until it was approved. But he said he knew the decision-making process “could take some time” and had started the course “hoping for a quick and favorable decision”.

He said he had not been paid for the four morning shifts he had missed – and that he had called the controller one particular morning to be told there was “no problem with [the] delayed departure”.

Mr Murphy said a letter describing his behavior as ‘misconduct’ surprised him and he criticized the approach of the human resources manager. He told Go Safe he would not return to work and received severance pay, he said.

When cross-examined by Ibec’s employer relations officer, Muireann McEnery, Mr Murphy acknowledged that he had no specific diagnosis from his GP.

He said he had “a history of weight problems[s] and mental health” and “denied hiding it” from the company. He said he “didn’t want to tell them” details about his mental health as he feared he had been fired.

Ms McEnery, for Go Safe, said the company had denied any discrimination. She said Mr Murphy had only filed a request to change his shifts a day before the start of the course, without mentioning any ‘mental or physical health benefits’ or that he was seeking reasonable accommodation.

Company management responded three days later on January 31, 2020, saying the company was “unable to commit to [the] demanded changes over a long period of time,” she said.

In response, Mr Murphy wrote to the company’s COO, saying: “Go Safe can surely accommodate me by approving the start time for the early roster change to allow me to complete my training so that I can to compete and raise much-needed funds to [the] Alzheimer Society. »

Ms McEnery said the operations manager said he would consider the application, but told Mr Murphy there was ‘a low likelihood of approval’ – and asked Mr Murphy not to take provisions until he came back to him.

Mr. Murphy then came with a doctor’s note asking for the shift changes, she said.

On February 14, Ms McEnery said Go Safe had offered Mr Murphy a shift swap deal instead of the shift change, but she argued the complainant was ‘aggressive and argumentative’.

At an HR meeting four days later, Mr Murphy spoke about the “negative impact of the weight gain on his mental health” and was asked to file a grievance, Ms McEnery said.

Mr Murphy did not attend morning shift the following day and told the company he had gone to class, she said, adding that a period of illness followed.

She said another meeting with Mr Murphy had failed and the complainant then indicated that he would hand in his notice of dismissal – refusing to work the anticipated shift during his notice period.

When Mr Murphy was cross-examined on his testimony by Ms McEnery, he said the MMA class had ‘saved his life’.

In her decision, released on Thursday, arbitrator Patsy Doyle wrote that Mr Murphy acknowledged that he had failed to notify his employer of being troubled by his mental health and weight gain.

She found that Mr. Murphy had not approached the case with evidence from medical experts on the disability – only a strong personal opinion that he had a disability that “met the components of the MMA course to the point where [he] said it had changed his life for the good”.

But although the training “strengthened” the complainant, she wrote, the issue of taking time off for it “was a beacon of unresolved conflict in the workplace.”

“I’m not sure that the fault lies solely with one party, the respondent,” she added.

However, Mr Murphy had ‘continued’ to go through training, clash with his pre-made lists and not consider any negotiating positions.

“He admits he didn’t share the real reason for his desire for self-improvement and disguised it as a philanthropic mission,” she wrote.

She said Go Safe had a right to be told about a worker’s struggles at work – and concluded the company was not ‘unsympathetic’ to Mr Murphy’s desire to take the course.

“I accept that they tried to make it work but were overwhelmed by the service requirements,” she wrote.

“A disability is more than feeling diminished, disappointed or depressed at work. To me, he has not proven that he possessed a disability which constituted a condition, illness or disease which limited his performance at work,” Ms Doyle wrote, concluding that Mr Murphy had failed to establish prima facie evidence.

She dismissed the complaint, saying Go Safe had no case to answer.

Kristen T. Prall