You and the Law – 6th January 2010

Case of wear and tear

I have worked for the local authority for 31 years in the construction industry.

Consequently I am suffering from wear and tear to my knees, and am waiting for a shoulder operation.

I’m not allowed to take early retirement on medical grounds, and now my employer says if I don’t accept a lower-paid job in the office I could be sacked.  Is this right?  GM

You need urgent advice on this from your union or a solicitor.  If your wear and tear could be classed as a disability (a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s day-to-day activities) you have a right not to be treated less favourably under the Disability Discrimination Act.

That means your employer should make reasonable adjustments for you, or find you alternative work if possible.  A lower-paid job may not fit the bill.

You may need to make a complaint about your treatment through the internal grievance procedure.  Seek detailed advice without delay.

Owing thousands

Our house was repossessed after I split up with my husband, and for the last three years the bank has been pursuing me for the £20,000 we owed.

They’re not pursuing my ex-husband because he’s on benefits.  I was told the bank would give up eventually, but they’re insisting I send them my income details every six months.  How long can it go on?  NR

If the bank was awarded a court judgement for the money outstanding, in addition to a possession order for your house, it can pursue you for the balance.

If there was no court order the bank can pursue you for six years, in your case by sending in your income details.  Bankruptcy, or an individual voluntary arrangement, may be an option depending on the details of your financial circumstances.  Discuss your problem with the Citizens Advice Bureau’s debt counselling service.

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