Jesse, a physically impaired person, launched a complaint with the Secretary of the Civil Service that she has been dismissed from her duties because of her physical impairment. She claims that this is a form of workplace discrimination and that she was not given a reasonable allowance to accommodate her hearing impairment. However, she has been dismissed from her job not because of any malpractice associated with her hearing impairment but for her inability, general professional incompetence, and dishonesty.
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After a rigorous recruitment exercise for a clerical officer, The Social Welfare Department (SWD), an equal opportunity employer settled on Jessie. She is a hearing-impaired person and gave her a three-year probation contract for which she was to be confirmed permanently upon returning satisfactory results. However 1 ½ year into the contract, Jessie’s work was below expectations. There was public complain about her rude telephone etiquette, refusal to work overtime to complete her duties, erroneous filing of documents went for medical leave without permission, dishonesty and lastly, she was a slow learner and couldn’t work without guidance. Her supervisor interviewed her on several occasions and gave her general guidelines on how to improve, which she failed to heed. As such, she failed to convince the probation board that she was fit to pass the probation bar. CSR 186(2) stipulates that a probation officer may terminate the duties of a probationer for reasons of indiscipline, poor temperaments, and general professional incompetence. As such, Jessie was dismissed from her role, for the said in competencies, not because of her hearing impairment.
I hereby recommend that Jessie’s complaint to the Secretary for the Civil Service be dismissed, as it does not meet the technical threshold for the dismissal of persons with disability. In her complaint, Jessie argues that she has been discriminated against because of her impairment and that her supervisor did not give her a reasonable allowance to accommodate her disability. This is a misrepresentation of facts because Jessie had been given a reasonable allowance in the following ways. Only 20% of her professional roles involved the use of her hearing ability. Fulfilling the CSR 180(2) requirement, her supervisor was constantly monitoring her progress and gave verbal advice on ways to improve her performance, which she did not heed. Thirdly, the supervisor held several interviews with her to address her seven professional shortcomings, six of which were not associated with her hearing impairment but indiscipline, professional negligence, and lack of desire to conform to job specifications. Jessie’s case does not, therefore, fulfill the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) Section 6 – (b) requirement on unfair treatments.
This case may repeat itself in the future if several steps are not taken. Where a person with a disability is to be put on probation, all attempts should be made to avoid allocating any responsibility that requires the use of their impaired ability. Performance criteria should only involve the measurement of performance on activities that do not involve the said impairment. Recruiters should also ensure that physically impaired people possess other desirable professional characteristics such as honesty, proper temperament, and personality.