The Law Society has been found guilty of discrimination after making a disabled member of staff redundant. And in a devilish twist of irony, the person doing the firing was the Law Soc's "diversity champion".

Elizabeth Marshall - who suffers from cerebral palsy - had worked as a speechwriter at 113 Chancery Lane for eleven years before being summoned to a meeting with Stephen Ward, the Law Soc's grandly-titled Director of Communications, Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility. During the meeting, it transpired her position was to be made redundant on grounds of business need. So that's the Head of Inclusion getting rid of the sole full-time Law Society employee with a disability. Nice.

    Diversity, law style

Marshall - who had previously emailed colleagues accusing the Law Soc of "systematic discrimination" - was offered the opportunity to apply for other positions within the organisation. Although when it came to sitting an internal test for suitability for such other roles her computer had not been set up properly and she was forced to take the test in a noisy room. As Marshall requires special voice recognition software to operate her PC, she claimed she was hamstrung by the conditions.

In mid-August, the Central London Employment Tribunal agreed that her redundancy was unfair, that the Society had failed to make reasonable accomodations for Marshall's disability, and awarded her "substantial" compensation.

Law Society Chief Executive Desmond Hudson said: "The Law Society is committed to equality and diversity both as an employer and as a representative body for solicitors. We regularly review our relevant policies and procedures to ensure we can deliver that commitment and are doing so now in the light of the recent tribunal. Like any responsible employer, we do not discuss any individual’s employment issues in public."
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