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Rugeley firm had tried to find alternative work

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

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A RUGELEY production operator with 32 years’ unblemished employment has lost a compensation claim for unfair dismissal after losing his job on health and safety grounds because of his bad back.

John Sharpe of Bridge Road, Rugeley, had been employed by Valspar Powder Coatings Ltd of Birmingham which has links going back to 1806.

Birmingham Employment Tribunal, where Mr Sharpe sought compensation for unfair dismissal against the firm, was told he developed knee trouble in a job which required him climbing in and out of a fork lift truck, walking up and down steps and lifting heavy equipment.

But it was when Mr Sharpe said he developed a bad back that his situation got worse. He was off work for three weeks, returned to work and was off work again - this time for nine months.

Mr Sharpe said he wanted to return to work and an occupational health report recommended that he could return on a phased basis.

But the firm eventually feared Mr Sharpe could face health and safety risks if he continued and despite attempts to find him alternative work, he was dismissed on the grounds of capability.

The respondents opposed Mr Sharpe’s compensation claim and said they had done all they could to help him.

The tribunal was told that under Mr Sharpe’s employment terms he could work on any of the firm’s three sites.

Tribunal judge Christopher Gaskell said there had been conflict between the claimant and the respondents over some issues and believed Mr Sharpe had “played down” his symptoms.

But he said he believed the firm had tried to find Mr Sharpe alternative work to help his bad back without success.

“The respondents feared he could face further risks and he lost his job on the grounds of capability,” said Mr Gaskell.

He rejected Mr Sharpe’s claim for unfair dismissal.

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