Deaf man lodges unfair dismissal claim against BHP

BHP and its contractor Carey Mining have been accused of discriminating against a deaf worker after terminating his employment at Area C mine in Western Australia.

A disability discrimination claim has been lodged in the Australian Human Rights Commission against both companies, with lawyers claiming Andrew Myers was unlawfully sacked.

According to his lawyers, Myers, 40, is deaf but wears hearing aids and a cochlear implant.

Myers has a range of qualifications which allow him to operate heavy vehicles and machinery in construction and mining, and is also a licensed pilot.

In a medical assessment, Myers was declared fit to work, with a pass rate of 98 per cent, but was sacked days after starting work with Carey Mining in May 2013, his lawyers said.

Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Kamal Farouque said Carey Mining told Myers he could not work at the site because BHP flagged a communication issue.

"Andrew was very up-front with his employer and everyone around him about being hearing impaired and was told by various company people they would support him," Farouque said.

"He did a health and safety induction test and got a 100 per cent result.

"After two to three days on the job, his immediate colleagues told him he was performing well and they had no problems, and that any issues with the two-way radio would be fixed."

Myers said he remains devastated by the decision to axe his employment.

"I could not believe what was happening to me,” Myers said.

“They promised me that they would help me and support me to work with BHP and Carey Mining for 20 to 25 years – that there was work for all those years.

"It was my dream to work in the mine. I couldn't believe it when they told me I was terminated. I've had discrimination all my life but not as open as this."

Farouque said Myers had been unlawfully discriminated against because of his disability.

"Any communication issue could have been overcome by making reasonable adjustments. From what Andrew was first told by Carey Mining, it seems that BHP didn't want him on site because of his disability.

"Andrew is a highly skilled, experienced worker who could have continued working, but they then cut him off at the knees and did not give him a good shot at this job, and a chance to prove himself."

BHP Billiton said it cannot comment on the matter.

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