Unfair dismissal: Compensation awarded to a Belfast bus driver

Ernest Wardlow was employed by Translink as a bus driver. Wardlow was driving a double-decker bus over a bridge in Belfast city centre and he blacked out. The bus was overturned and there were over 30 passenger injuries. Fortunately, no fatalities in the accident. The accident happened on 14 August 2011.

After a period of time off Wardlow went to his GP and then to Occupational Health and they declared that he was fit to return back to work. When he returned he was redeployed into a cleaning post. On the same day that he returned back to work he sustained another loss of consciousness and had to go off work for further week. The claimant believed that his medication was the cause of the blackouts. He had been on his medication since 2009.

He was then reissued his PCV license but his employer refused to allow him to return to his duties as a driver, and had to remain carrying out his post as a cleaner. He took the claim to the ETA and the tribunal concluded that he had been redeployed into a significantly different post from his own job and this amounted to unfair dismissal. His further claim on the grounds of disability discrimination failed.

The respondent claimed that he had not been dismissed as they had redeployed him into another role. This claim was thrown out by the tribunal.

Wardlow was awarded loss of salary and future loss of two years together with a statutory uplift. Transonic was ordered to pay him £37,585.50 in compensation.