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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I am a former university lecturer with an acquired brain

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Hi
JA: Hi. How can I help?
Customer: I am a former university lecturer with an acquired brain injury. I used to be a BBC radio journalist. My brain injury forced me to leave journalism, but I can teach. Most journalism courses are validated by the BJTC - the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. Its new guidelines state that journalism lecturers must have newsroom experience within the last three years. I haven't been able to work in a newsroom since 2012. Those guidelines are fine if you are already in post. But I was made redundant last year. I have been rejected on three applications because I don't have recent newsroom experience. I have a first in my teaching qualification and 7 years lecturing experience. Are the BJTC guidelines discriminating against applicants who can't work in a newsroom because of disability?
JA: Have you discussed the injury with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Yes. On all three occasions HR have sympathised with my position but say they are working to BJTC guidelines.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am currently a freelance podcast producer, but only because I can't get back into teaching which is what I really want to do. Wolverhampton Uni didn't shortlist me, even though I have been guest lecturing for them.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just that I realise these are guidelines. The BJTC told me they aren't rules. The problem is universities are applying them strictly because they need BJTC validation to market their courses. A non validated course is considered a lower standard.

Hi, this is Jim, thank you very much for the question - I will do my best to resolve this for you today.

It seems to me that the guidelines are not discriminatory as you say they need newsroom experience in the last 3 years - and you had not obtained that experience due to the brain injury, though this is not their fault. It is a civil wrong to discriminate against someone on the grounds of a disability, as per the Equality Act 2010, and if there was proof of that then yes you could sue for damages. However, if your brain injury was as a result of someone else's negligence, your diminished prospects could be compensated for in a personal injury claim - I am not sure if your injury was sustained due to a pure accident or someone's negligence, nor if you have made a claim in that regard. The University did not shortlist you but as I say, it is likely because you do not have the required experience as opposed to the fact you have an injury. You could ask the University in a Subject Access Request, under the new data laws (GDPR) for your details they hold for you, to see if there is anything damning in their notes to say why you were not shortlisted. That may shed light on the matter. You can make a request with the following template :
https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/your-right-to-get-copies-of-your-data/preparing-and-submitting-your-subject-access-request/

If after receiving your data there is any reference to the injury, you could then take this further on the grounds of discrimination.

I hope this helps - please feel free to ask me anything else.

Have a good day,
Jim

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Hello Jim. Thank you for this. Disappinting but at least it will stop me wasting my time on a lost cause. Just to clarify, my brain injury is a result of a stroke - so nobody's fault. I had 23 years experience in a BBC newsroom up until 2012. I have worked with lecturers who have been out of the newsroom for longer than me; it's only when you move jobs it becomes a problem. It does mean long-standing lecturers daren't move jobs, but I appreciate that is a different issue.

Thanks, ***** ***** be worth making a subject access request to the University to see what they hold (data-wise). A lot of people who have had interviews do this, and prospective employers must release the candidate's data. If not then you can report them to the Information Commissioner's Office on 0303(###) ###-####- who can levy large fines against companies or institutions who have breached the GDPR law.

JimLawyer and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Thank you, Jim. I will put in a Subject Access Request.