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Worker sacked for failing to wear his glasses claims unfair dismissal

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A former employee of medical equipment makers Lifescan has commenced legal action against the company after it sacked him for failing to wear glasses at work.

Duncan MacKenzie, 38, of Forres, near Inverness, worked at Lifescan for eight years and was responsible for weeding out defects in sheets of diabetic blood glucose testing strips.

In November 2009, Mr MacKenzie's boss Donald MacKinnon organised a meeting to discuss his job performance.

"A couple of people who worked in the same line as Duncan had said that a number of cards were getting put through that inspection point that shouldn't have," he said.

"It was a very important defect to miss and one that should have been spotted.

"That particular defect is very easy to spot when you are trained in that area," he added.

At the meeting, Mr MacKinnon says he learned that Mr MacKenzie had failed a company eye test some months before and should have been wearing prescription glasses.

Shortly afterwards, Lifescan held a disciplinary hearing and decided to dismiss Mr MacKenzie.

After consulting a solicitor, Mr MacKenzie, who suffers from epilepsy, lodged claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. He claims Lifescan failed to take his medical condition into consideration before they dismissed him.

Apparently Mr MacKenzie suffered a severe epileptic seizure a few months before his dismissal. Indeed, he had to take several months off work because of the seizure, his hours were cut, and he was still under medical supervision as part of a phased return to work when he was sacked.

Mr MacKenzie told the employment tribunal: "When I have a fit, it takes me a while to get my bearings back.

"I had broken my glasses a few months before it was brought up with my managers and I just forgot to replace them.

"When I had the meeting with the managers, I just felt pressured to go along with anything they said. I didn't want to blame my illness."

He also said that an occupational health worker recommended that Lifescan carry out a risk assessment on him when he returned to work after the seizure, but it never happened.

Mr MacKenzie added: "They never took my illness into consideration. I had been off work for a long time and was still seeing a doctor when it happened. I was really upset when they dismissed me. I just felt like they wanted rid of me."

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