scorecardReceptionist with 'inability to say' her law firm's name loses employment tribunal
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Receptionist with 'inability to say' her law firm's name loses employment tribunal

Rebecca Rommen   

Receptionist with 'inability to say' her law firm's name loses employment tribunal
Careers1 min read
  • A receptionist who was said to have been unable to say her firm's name lost an employment tribunal.
  • The claimant said she had lost her job due to a disability, not due to performance issues.

A receptionist in the UK who could not say the name of her law firm has lost an employment tribunal claim.

The claimant, named in the case documents as Miss J Earle, briefly worked as a temporary receptionist administrator for the law firm Wykeham Hurford Sheppard & Son Ltd in 2022.

Her contract was terminated at the southern England law firm just over a week into the role, with the firm saying she "could not perform the role to the required standard," citing reasons including an "inability to say the firm's name when answering the phone to clients" and repeatedly putting calls through to "fee earners directly, thereby interrupting them from their work."

According to Lucy Walker Recruitment, a British company specialising in permanent and temporary office-based staff, a receptionist must communicate well.

"The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly, and as intended is a vital skill for a receptionist. The ability to speak appropriately with a wide variety of people, whilst maintaining good eye contact and having a good vocabulary, are the sought-after skills of today's modern receptionist," said its website.

Earle claimed that she had been dismissed due to a disability that causes her "back, shoulder and neck pain."

She subsequently brought claims of direct disability discrimination, discrimination arising out of disability, and harassment related to disability, as well as claiming that the law firm failed to make reasonable adjustments for a disability.

However, the tribunal panel found that she did not meet the statutory definition of a disability, meaning that her claims failed.

On the name issue, the judgement said: "The name Wykeham-Hurford Sheppard & Son is certainly something of a mouthful, but the panel did not agree that it was a difficult or unreasonable task for a receptionist to perform."

It added that "it was the manner in which Miss Earle refused to accept her own obvious shortcomings which further undermined her credibility."




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