A caretaker has successfully claimed that the long Covid is a deficiency in what could be a historic court decision.
Terence Burke is believed to be the first person in Britain to have the condition recognized as a disability after he was given permission to be a disability discrimination case against his former employer.
Burke contracted coronavirus in November 2020, and despite experiencing “very mild” flu-like symptoms during the period of isolation, he soon developed severe headaches and fatigue and did not return to work at Turning Point Scotland until he was laid off for nine months. later.
In its trial – the first public case of its kind – the panel concluded that the coronavirus had caused it “substantial and long-term” side effects.
The court heard that Burke became ill as he struggled to complete simple household chores and even missed a family funeral because of his extreme tiredness.
He was then fired after becoming so exhausted that he was unable to attend work for about nine months, according to the panel.
After the conclusion of a preliminary case to determine whether he was legally incapacitated, Burke’s case against charity Turning Point Scotland can now proceed to a full hearing.
The court heard that he had worked as a caretaker for the charity since April 2001.
After Burke and his wife contracted Covid, his fatigue developed to the point where he had to lie down after getting dressed in the morning.
The court – held remotely in Scotland – heard that he was also experiencing joint pain in his arms, legs and shoulders, along with a loss of appetite and a lack of concentration.
The court heard that he did not feel well enough to socialize or attend important events such as his uncle’s funeral in December 2020 because of fatigue and headaches “which was very out of character for him”.
In August 2021, Burke was fired for ill health after nine months out of work, with medical certificates extended by his doctor during that time.
His resignation letter read: “In my opinion, you remain too ill to return to work and there seems to be nothing else we can do to adjust your duties or work environment that would make your return more likely.”
The court heard that Burke didn’t start to feel better until January of this year, although he still suffered from “continuous fatigue” and “joint pain crisis.”
His daughter Tressa Burke, CEO of the Glasgow Disability Alliance, told the court that her father had been “tired for months”, had no appetite and had lost weight.
She said he didn’t know how to cook and recalled a conversation where he said he hoped to get back to work in April 2021, but was “groggy” and “exhausted for days afterwards”.
After several phone consultations with his family doctor, Burke was diagnosed with “post-viral fatigue syndrome”.
The panel ruled that Burke’s long Covid amounted to a disability under the Equality Act.
Employment Judge James Young ruled: “I consider that the relevant tests are met to meet the definition of disability.”
Burke will now take his claims of unfair dismissal, disability discrimination, age discrimination and non-payment of severance pay to a final court hearing.
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