30 November 2015
The manager of a Salvation Army store, Kathleen Hinder, was suspended from work four years ago because customers constantly complained about her, she smoked too close to the entrance of the store and did not keep the store clean.
Now Ms Hinder believes that she was suspended from her employment due to disability discrimination. The religious charity has now been taken to court by Ms Hinder.The Blue Mountains woman is alleging that she was targeted because of her gambling addiction.
A magistrate in NSW has cleared the way for the law to decide whether an addiction to gambling is a disability.
Working for eight years at the Upper Blue Mountain Corps Family Store, she was suspended for two weeks with pay in 2011 but decided to quit rather than accept the suspension.
It is contended that her bosses had falsely accused her of stealing money from the till and, three weeks prior to the suspension, she had shared with her supervisors a document called “Kath’s Story”, which documented her past struggles with gambling.
The Salvation Army denies the theft allegations from 2011 and contends that the decision to suspend Ms Hinder was made by a HR officer who was unaware of her gambling problem.
Magistrate Nancy Hennessy found that, “Ms Hinder may be able to establish that her particular issue with gambling is a disability because it is ‘a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.”