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‘Make managers accountable for workplace abuse’

Sandys man calls on new premier to address abuse of people with disabilities

By Elizabeth Roberts

A man who says he has been assaulted and bullied in the workplace due to his physical disability has called on new Premier Craig Cannonier to offer greater protection to disabled people.

Phillip Ingham has cerebral palsy, which affects the movement of the right side of his body.

He said he has suffered discrimination for almost 14 years while working in the hospitality sector.

He believes other people with disabilities have encountered similar problems.

“As a person who is partially disabled, I feel it’s time, with the new Government, to come forward and say something and maybe bring in new legislation.

“In the past, as a young Bermudian studying hospitality, I was threatened to be killed and assaulted three times. I was told if I carried on studying I would be killed,” he said.

Mr Ingham preferred not to give further details about the venue of the incidents beyond saying he was doing front desk work in the hospitality industry at the time.

“These threats and assaults were coming from company workers. I had filthy dishwater thrown in my face and beer thrown over my uniform and in my face.”

Mr Ingham, 42, from Sandys, said he also encountered harassment and physical abuse at a recent job in Hamilton, although he preferred not to name his employer.

“I was let go from my job while I was on probation and told there were ongoing concerns but I was never told what they were about.”

Mr Ingham said he complained to managers about his treatment without results.

He believes that his cerebral palsy is the cause of the bullying.

“I think it is to do with my disability as when I walk I move in an unorthodox way and I think it embarrasses people and they don’t understand,” he said.

“I want to see managers take more responsibility in the workplace for people with disabilities. I want the Premier to read this article and bring in a new law because other people with disabilities are saying the same thing to me.

“I want a change in the law to make managers accountable for workplace abuse. I want the Premier to read this and because it is a new era now, we have got to start afresh. We must move forward from prejudice.”

Bermuda’s Human Rights Act makes it illegal for a person to discriminate against another person on the grounds of a disability. This applies to employers or individuals.

Asked if he had ever gone to the Human Rights Commission or launched legal action against any of the people he has complaints against, Mr Ingham said he went to the Human Rights Commission “years ago” with his concerns.

However, he said he has not complained to them recently and cannot contemplate legal action against any of the people who have allegedly discriminated against him, as he cannot afford a lawyer.

Mr Ingham said that when he made a complaint to the police “many years ago” about being assaulted, “the reprisals made it worse”.

Now, he said: “I just want to get back into employment.”

Attempts to get comment from the Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Community and Cultural Development were unsuccessful by press time.

Phillip Ingham has cerebral palsy, and says he has suffered discrimination in the workplace because of it. ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

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Published January 04, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 03, 2013 at 10:02 pm)

‘Make managers accountable for workplace abuse’

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