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Starbucks dyslexia case “wake up call” for employers

This news post is about 8 years old

​Coffee company discriminated against employee who found writing difficult

A charity has said employers have been given a “wake up call” after a woman with dyslexia won a disability discrimination case against Starbucks.

A tribunal said Meseret Kumulchew was discriminated against after she made mistakes when working for Starbucks.

The multi-national coffee chain said she had falsified documents after making errors when recording temperature of fridges and water at specific times.

I'll struggle, but don't worry, help me and I'll get there in my own time - Meseret Kumulchew

As a supervisor at Starbucks in Clapham, south-west London, Kumulchew was responsible for these taks and entering them in a duty roster. But due to her dyslexia she made mistakes, unnoticed by herself.

As a result managers gave her lesser duties at the branch in London and told to retrain. This, she told the tribunal left her suicidal and feeling worthless.

There will now be a separate hearing to determine any compensation.

The British Dyslexia Association said the ruling should be a wake-up call for employers.

Dr Kate Saunders, chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, said: "Many dyslexics are struggling in the work place with very high levels of anxiety because employers do not have the training or the awareness to make adjustments for them.

“Sadly our national helpline receives numerous calls from adults who are facing serious problems and discrimination in the workplace. Many have found themselves very emotional, stressed, anxious and feeling as if they have nowhere else to turn.”

In a statement, Starbucks said: “We are in ongoing discussions with this Starbucks partner (employee) around specific workplace support and we are not able to comment on a case that has not yet been completed.”

Kumulchew said she wanted to help her company provide support and was willing to allow someone to check her work for mistakes.

“I'll struggle, but don't worry, help me and I'll get there in my own time," she said.

“I'm not going to affect your business, because for every customer I'll roll out the red carpet.

“I love my job. Giving them a coffee may not be a big deal, but I'm making their life, for the day at least, happy.”