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Midland firm successfully defend unfair dismissal claim

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A Midland engineering firm has successfully triumphed in a high profile disability tribunal against a former employee.

Earlswood-based Laranca Engineering, a specialist manufacturing firm who provide parts to the F1 industry, had originally lost a preliminary hearing in December 2011 brought by former labourer Anthony Somner.

After being dismissed only a matter of months after joining the firm, Mr Somner lodged a claim for disability discrimination, accusing Laranca’s management of not making any reasonable adjustments at work to help with his osteoarthritis. Mr Somner said he suffered from the condition in both knees and being expected to stand to work his machine worsened his illness.

Mr Somner, of Headless Cross, Redditch, took forward his claim to Birmingham Employment Tribunal on 23rd February where the tribunal unanimously rejected his claims on the grounds of countless contradictions with his original statement and that Mr Somner failed to disclose his condition to his ex-employers.

The tribunal also heard from the firm’s lawyer, employment specialist Sally Morris, who confirmed that Mr Somner had in fact been dismissed due to a consistently poor attitude and unacceptable performance. Ms Morris also verified that Mr Somner, who was only employed by Laranca Engineering for a total of five months, had verbally accepted that the firm were unaware he was disabled or that he suffered from osteoarthritis.

Ms Morris, head of employment at law firm MFG Solicitors, said: “Laranca Engineering is a family firm with a proud history and a first-class track record of showing support for their employees – a fact underlined by the number of staff who helped defend against Mr Somner’s upsetting claims. Therefore, I am pleased to have helped the company successfully defend themselves and their reputation and importantly, that the tribunal recognised the key inconsistencies with the case.

“The result sends out a clear message to all respected Midland employers that they can be successful in defending claims for discrimination by presenting meticulously prepared facts to a tribunal and robustly challenging false accusations. This is a great result for employers and for the justice system.”

Roz Shaw, company secretary at family-owned Laranca Engineering added: “From day one we resolutely denied Mr Somner’s claims and I am delighted the tribunal reviewed the facts of the case to come to their decision. We have an excellent record of supporting our employees and have always made the correct arrangements to accommodate anyone who has made us aware of a disability. As a firm, we are just happy to put the case behind us and focus our efforts into growing our reputation across the country with the support of our superb workforce.”