A university lecturer has claimed before the High Court that he failed to secure a full-time post because the third-level institution where he works failed to consider his dyslexia.
Arising out of that decision, Dr Andrew Stewart who lectures at the University of Limerick's department of physics and energy has brought High Court judicial review proceedings against UL.
As a result of UL’s decision, he claims his employment at the university will terminate at the end of December.
The High Court heard that since 2016 he has been employed at the college as a “lecturer below the bar”.
Earlier this year he applied for tenure, or a full-time position, known as progression across the merit bar at the university.
He claims that unless such a promotion is achieved by a lecturer “below the bar” during the fifth year of their employment at the university, their employment contact will not be renewed.
He claims that, in its decision last May, UL denied him that position.
He sought an internal review of the decision.
However, in September, UL’s governing authority upheld the original refusal.
Equality and diversity
He claims that in reaching the decision to refuse his application the university failed to consider factors including that he is dyslexic as well as having a medical condition.
He claims that such a failure amounts to breaches of the universities own published policies and procedures regarding the granting of tenure for academic staff.
He claims UL’s own equality and diversity policy states that all applications for career progression will be assessed fairly and regardless of any disability.
He claims he just missed out on obtaining a score necessary to obtain promotion. He claims his dyslexia, which was a relevant matter, should have been considered by UL.
He claims the appeal was determined by people who were members of the governing authority who had already decided on his case at first instance.
He claims that when he applied online for the promotion the application form, created by UL, did not include any appropriate space to specify any disability which he claims should be considered as part of UL’s obligations as an equal employer.
This meant he could not raise his dyslexia with the college.
He submitted that when the committee that heard his appeal issued its determination, it held that it was Dr Stewart’s own decision not to include reference to his disability as part of the application process.
In his High Court judicial review proceedings against UL, he seeks an order quashing the refusal to grant him progression across the merit bar.
He also seeks various declarations including that the decision is invalid because the university failed to consider his intellectual disability when reaching its decision, which is in breach of UL’s obligations under the 1997 Universities Act, and the 1998-2015 Employment Equality Acts.
The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who on an ex-parte basis granted Dr Stewart permission to bring his challenge. The matter will return before the court in January.
The judge also placed a stay on the university’s decision to end Dr Stewart’s employment, pending further order of the court.
UL, if it wishes to, may return to court on notice to the applicant, and apply to have that stay lifted, the judge added.