'˜Discrimination' - Readers react to Edinburgh shop boss no longer hiring rail commuters

Readers are split over the pledge by an Edinburgh businessman to never employ another rail commuter because a key member of his staff has been repeatedly delayed by Scotrail.

Monday, 10th December 2018, 3:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 1:25 pm

John McKee, director of Hanover Healthfoods, relies on senior employee Rachel Bell to open the shop at 9:30am every day.

But she said her train service from Aberdour in Fife had been so unreliable that he regularly had to draft in colleagues at short notice or come in himself when she was late.

Mr McKee said he had had to “think long and hard” about hiring Mrs Bell because she commuted by rail, and that he would “definitely not employ another person reliant on the trains again.”

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Rachel Bell at Aberdour station

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Edinburgh shop boss won't hire rail travellers due to Scotrail disruption

However, readers have been divided over the move which was highlighted in today’s Evening News, with many suggesting it could be a form of discrimination.

Lyn Taylor wrote: “Not entirely sure it’s legal to refuse to employ someone because of their mode of transport?!”

Another, Claire Golding, wrote: “Discrimination case coming up.”

Rachel Bell at Aberdour station.

But Becca Murdoch wrote: “Travel arrangements aren’t a protected characteristic under discrimination laws, and the fact that the mode of travel means she can’t do her job properly means the business has a rebuttal to any claims of discrimination.”

However Lyn Taylor responded: “So the fact that this lady is regularly late makes it ok to make a blanket statement saying you will never employ another person who commutes by train? Another person may be able to get an earlier train, may never be late or be able to make other arrangements but won’t get the opportunity because this person has “vowed to never employ another rail commuter”! I get that it’s maybe not a ‘protected characteristic’ but it’s a bit extreme, in my opinion.”

Other readers directly criticised Scotrail, with Ian Higham saying: “Scotfail..at their best...they should be made to pay loss of earnings, you pay upfront for a service which is terrible and the brass neck to hike fares up by 3.5%.”

Many suggested the onus was on the employee to make sure they get to work on time, with Christine Carolan writing: “Get an earlier train!!! Buses run late, traffic delays happen it’s life. Then get a better boss.”

Another, lan Sinclair, wrote: “Get an earlier train. It’s not rocket science.”

Jane Weir said: “I get the point that the article highlights the terrible rail service but surely if you were this employee you would find a different way to get to work. Why not use the bus if the trains are so abysmal? No different for this employee than others working in town.”

And Bryd Fairgrieve said: “If the boss is that bothered why no get her a company vehicle?”

But many readers pointed out that there could easily be delays with earlier trains and that not everyone lives near a bus route.

ScotRail said it was ‘doing everything we can’ to be more punctual and apologised to their customers who have experienced disruption to their journeys.

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