Thirty-year-old Ketan Aggarwal, who is autistic, won a court battle last year. A gym employee branded the man as “stupid”. During the court battle, he proved that employee very wrong—Ketan actually represented himself in court.
Ketan was insulted during a spin class at Virgin Active in Uxbridge. Ketan and another participant in the class thought the music was too slow for the routine—and they made their feelings known. This caused the instructor to shout “don’t tell me how to do my job”.
Ketan was twice called “stupid” in front of the spin class—which consisted of about 30 people.
Ketan, who works as an administrator, complained to Virgin Active; however, despite the complaint, the company didn’t take any action against the employee who insulted Ketan. As a result, Ketan decided to take matters into his own hands. He decided to sue for disability discrimination.
He borrowed books from the library, read up on previous discrimination cases, and found online articles about the matter. Two years later, he was ready to go to court.
It is worth noting that it usually takes three years to become a qualified lawyer in the United Kingdom. One has to spend a year in law school and then two years as a trainee.
Ketan’s hard work paid off, and he won the case. Virgin Active was required to pay him costs and compensation—the company was also made to apologize to the man.
He may have been victorious—a truly impressive feat—but Ketan remained humble. He said that calling a person with a mental disability stupid is comparable to making fun of a person in a wheelchair.
Ketan pointed out that if he were stupid, he would not have been able to successfully and effectively pursue a claim against solicitors working for a billion-pound company.
He says that his victory was two years coming, adding that it was a lot of hard work. Because he is not a legal professional, he had to do an enormous about of paperwork. He said that he had to “live” in the library, which he did in order to pick up law from the books there. He also had to get templates for submitting paperwork off of the internet.
According to Ketan, his autism diagnosis was delayed; he did not find out he was autistic until he was an adult. However, he says he was always “socially awkward”.
After two years of work, in addition to the written apology, Ketan won 1,200 pounds in compensation and 190 pounds in costs.
Virgin Active was also given a bit of advice by the judgment in this case. The company was ordered to consider amending its staff’s equality training and also the joining application—so that non-physical conditions might be included.
He worked hard for two years, but Ketan believes it was all worth it. It was never about the money, he said.
“It was about the principle.”
For those unfamiliar with the business, Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs that operates in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Namibia, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia. The company first launched in 1999. There are over 250 locations worldwide, and it is a part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
As mentioned, Ketan wasn’t diagnosed with autism until adulthood. While most people these days are diagnosed with the condition as young children, it isn’t terribly uncommon for people to be diagnosed as teens and adults. Currently, children are typically screened for autism before the age of 2 at well-child visits, but that was not always the case. Years ago, children with autism may have been labeled as having learning disabilities—or simply called “difficult”.
According to WebMD, if a person thinks they might have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is totally possible that he or she might have relatively mild symptoms. Furthermore, even if symptoms are severe, it is possible that person may have been misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
It is difficult for those adults who worry they may have ASD, as there is not yet any established procedure regarding the diagnosis of ASD in adults. Therefore, according to WebMD, physicians who specialize in adult ASD are difficult to find.