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Brain injury led to sexual comments - claim

PUBLISHED: 10:30 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:52 02 July 2010

Paul Budd who is fighting constructive dismissal and disability discrimination against John Lewis PLC.

Paul Budd who is fighting constructive dismissal and disability discrimination against John Lewis PLC.

Rebecca Gough

A man who left his job after being suspended for making sexual comments to a young woman claims his actions were a result of brain damage after a road accident.

A man who left his job after being suspended for making sexual comments to a young woman claims his actions were a result of brain damage after a road accident.

Paul Budd, 42, of Old Catton, is challenging his former employer at an industrial tribunal in Norwich, arguing that his comments were not a disciplinary matter because they were a symptom of damage to his frontal lobe sustained in a road accident in Hellesdon in 1993.

As a result he was left unsteady on his feet, with slightly slurred speech and a reduced ability to control his comments in front of others.

Mr Budd left his job at Waitrose in Wymondham, where he had worked since 2006, and is fighting against parent company John Lewis.

The tribunal, which opened yesterday and will determine whether Mr Budd was a victim of constructive dismissal and disability discrimination, heard how he believed more should have been done to accommodate his condition, including being given more supervision by his line manager and briefing colleagues not to engage in inappropriate language with him.

Mr Budd also said he felt singled out for having to wear “sturdy shoes”, and ridiculed for requesting to wear knee pads.

A consultant neurologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Dr David Dick, outlined Mr Budd's condition. He said Mr Budd struggled to adhere to normal social behaviours and was dis-inhibited, but that his intellect was still there.

“He doesn't respond to the usual social cues and sometimes makes a remark of a sexual nature,” he said.

“He sometimes makes remarks which are inappropriate and I'm sure on occasion people can take offence when none is meant.

“It's akin to shooting from the hip, like you or I would, but this doesn't mean that in the cold light of day these are remarks he does not regret having made.”

Counsel for John Lewis, Helen Wolstenholme , said the crux of the matter was whether the other party took the words to be offensive.

The tribunal continues.

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