A civil servant in England, who was barred from listening to music on her headphones in her office, has won her discrimination case. Her manager permitted the employee to listen to music after she explained it was a coping mechanism against her anxiety. However, because a fellow employee complained about this practice, the management then went back on their decision and stopped her from wearing headphones in the office.

The employee had been signed off from work as unwell for several weeks because of her mental and emotional issues. When she returned to work, she discussed with her manager if she could listen to music through her headphones because it helped her manage her anxiety by tuning out the distractions of other people in the office. She had realised the benefits of music as a coping mechanism and was supported by her doctor in this. So her manager in the office helped her and gave her permission to use headphones in the office.

In time though, some of the other managers in the office disagreed with this decision, stating that the employee was too distracted from her work. The issue was escalated when a colleague complained that she found it challenging to communicate with the employee because of the headphones. The tension then mounted between the employee and her managers when they prevented her from listening to music despite their duty to make adjustments because of her condition.

In the tribunal, employment judge Adele Aspden stated, “We have accepted that [the employee] found listening to music helped her to cope with stress and counter feelings of anxiety and that this, in turn, was likely to aid her productivity,”

It was decided that the managers “deprived her of a coping mechanism by denying her request,” the judge added, so they were guilty of discrimination against her. “That put [the employee] at a disadvantage compared with those without a disability, because people without a disability were much less likely to experience anxiety in the workplace, the disadvantage was more than minor or trivial because anxiety had the potential to affect [her] productivity at work, as well as her mood.”

The court ruled the civil servant had won her discrimination case, and her employee would be ordered by the court to compensate her.

Source: DailyMail