I wonder how long I will be able to stick to my original plan of recording my thoughts on the blog? It may be difficult when the blog gets a bit of recognition. Up to a point I think it is a good exercise: neurotypicals don’t share all their thoughts with the environment and we also need to be a bit careful and aware of how things we say may sound. Obviously, as an autistic I will never be able to do that at the level of a diplomatic neurotypical person, but still, I should at least try.
So basically, yesterday morning I received an email from a Polish lady also living in a UK, who is fighting an ongoing battle against Employment Tribunal. Since 2016, after only working for an employer for 4 months. Was it worth it, I thought?
She asked me to leave review of my employment tribunal experience on Trust Pilot, which I did. I gave them 5 stars, which was a bit tongue in cheek, and to let people know I’m not going to fight the tribunal. And only then it turned out that lady was hoping I’d join her vendetta.
But I can’t do that, you know? First, I am focused here on improving understanding of how autistic people think, not on fighting the tribunal. Not even on fighting Home Group (as fun as it seems at times, this is not my focus). Yes, employment tribunal is part of my story and the fact that I was never even offered settlement now gives me the opportunity to talk about it openly, but it’s only part of it and not all of it. I don’t even want it to be the main point, although it can certainly draw attention.
The other thing is, I withdrawn my claim quite quickly, so I don’t have much of the experience with how it has been handled by the tribunal.
Why I withdrawn? Well, it was all very complicated. First of all, I didn’t really start the claim to receive compensation, I started it because I wanted to draw attention to what is sometimes happening to autistic employees. So basically I needed my employment story, but I was aware that I can’t just start talking about it out of nowhere, I had to give Home Group the opportunity to first make things right and the only way to do that was by making a claim.
Home Group didn’t make it right, they made it even worse. It was so ironic that, even though they gave me evidence against themselves, I was loosing on a social level: by claiming my autism diagnosis was private and they paid for it they created a situation where people were unlikely to believe me and being in situations where I don’t feel like I’m being supported can make me go mute or at least ‘more autistic’.
I did inform Mr Scope directly at the end of July 2017 that I didn’t have a private diagnosis and I withdrawn my claim at the beginning of December, so they had good few months to work out that the documents in my file must have been fabricated, yet they never offered me settlement.
At the beginning of September 2017 I started hallucinating and that’s when I travelled to Poland to stay with my parents (thank god I didn’t decide to go to Paris instead!). The hallucinations lasted for around 10 days but as I recovered from psychosis, I started to suffer bad panic attacks. The tribunal insisted on preliminary hearing and I really didn’t feel like I could cope with that. Initially I provided sick note and it was postponed, but not for long. I pointed out to the tribunal that preliminary hearing is not really needed as the only thing we need to establish are details of my fake diagnosis, and those would already be evidence of the fact I was being bullied but the judge didn’t take much notice of that comment and insisted on preliminary hearing.
I then realised I needed time to recover, without worrying about what Home Group may do next and the only thing that was going to help was to withdraw.
So in a way, although judge didn’t take my individual circumstances into consideration, it actually helped me to get where I wanted to be: it helped me claim my story. Home Group had all the chances to make things right and they chose not to. So I can now talk about that.
And what would happen if we proved in tribunal proceedings that my private diagnosis was fake? Home Group would force me to accept settlement and I’d look like a trouble maker if I rejected. So the judge’s inflexible attitude helped me achieve what I really wanted. Even if I first needed a few years of recovery time to proceed. So it would be unfair to attact the tribunal now.
I know though that there are people out there who fight their cases against all odds. And I wonder, is this a good thing that by law people are allowed to make claims that make them look bad on social level? You know, like for example someone who only worked in a place for 4 months and it took them 6 years to fight sexual harassment claim. You read that story and you just want to scream: move on! You’re only ruining your life!
To make an employment tribunal claim you don’t even need to be employed, it’s enough if you were a candidate for the job, but didn’t get it. You can also make a claim while still working for the employer. And although both of those situations make the system look so fair on face value, they make those claimants look bad on social level and no one ever talks about it because that wouldn’t make the system look good. Yet, neurotypicals would mostly know not to proceed in those cases, but autistics, especially young ones will think, how great there’s a procedure for what happened to me, let’s make a use out of it.
And the fact that I was contacted by that lady yesterday, on an Easter Sunday, really tells me something. Easter is time to spend with family and friends, to eat cheesecake and chocolate eggs, not to pursue people who could join you in your ongoing battle against Employment Tribunal. And I thought, as a result of my claim I spent 4 months in psychiatric hospital and had a suicide attempt. I was unable to work for 9 months. I still have ongoing symptoms (my focus on looking for hidden meanings when I’m confused) but I moved on. Yesterday morning me and John played board game (and it was a good fun!). I wouldn’t even think about Home Group oif that lady didn’t email me.
So yes, my employment tribunal claim will always be part of my story. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t move on.