Visually impaired worker to sue ABS over disability discrimination

by John Maguire24 Jun 2016
A former Canberra public servant who is blind is suing his former employer, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in the Federal Circuit Court alleging he was the victim of serious and blatant disability discrimination by the Commonwealth.

Mathew Artis, who is legally blind, claims he was forced out of a job by bosses because of his visual impairment. Artis says he was forced to move between different sections of the ABS, treated as if he were a liability and even told he was “a fish out of water” by one boss. He also says that ABS managers indulged in consistent, petty acts of discrimination and that he was given inappropriate roles for a visually impaired worker, such as reading and research.

The ABS refutes the allegation of discrimination and that it failed to provide reasonable adjustments for its disabled employee and assign appropriate tasks. The bureau states that it denies “discrimination occurred in [it's] decision to terminate the [Mr Artis's] employment."

Artis alleges that his medical retirement in late 2014 was the result of mounting pressure from bosses and years of mistreatment. He alleges that the treatment he endured inflicted lasting psychological damage that has inhibited his ability to find work.
 
In his claim document to the court Artis said, “I was told I was not going to be moved and the only option I would have was to resign or to take a total and permanent incapacity pension."

"The last thing I wanted to do was take a pension, I knew I had more to offer, I just needed to be treated fairly and given the same opportunity as others.

"I had never felt so disabled as how I was treated."

The case will return to court later this month.
 

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