A BLIND woman is owed more than £40,000 by her former employers.

Paula Hargreaves was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease in 2020, a genetic disorder affecting her vision which has now left her registered blind.

However, property maintenance company Reactive Solutions FM Ltd, which she worked for at this time, failed to make 'reasonable adjustments' and eventually terminated her employment.

This left her without the necessary skills to find future employment, causing her emotional and financial difficulties.

The 44-year-old, who lives with her partner in Winnington, said: “It’s been horrendous, I’ve never been through anything like it in my life.

“It has just broken us, we’ve had to sell our house because we’ve got into that much debt.”

Ms Hargreaves began working at Reactive Solutions FM, based at Devine Business Park in Anderton, in the summer of 2020.

She was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease in December of that year, after realising she was struggling to drive.

Northwich Guardian: Ms Hargreaves says she has been forced to sell her homeMs Hargreaves says she has been forced to sell her home (Image: Supplied)

In March 2021 Access to Work, a government scheme, made recommendations to the company which would have helped Ms Hargreaves adjust to working life with this condition.

However, Reactive Solutions FM failed to act on these recommendations and she was eventually dismissed from her role in April 2022.

Ms Hargreaves said: “It was a huge, life-changing, thing for me but they didn’t take it seriously.

“I didn’t get the training I needed while I was losing my eyesight and now I’m registered as blind.

“It would have given me a big head start. But as a result I’ve not been able to get work anywhere, trying to learn a new job being blind is very difficult.

“It’s heartbreaking. I need to work. I want to work.”

At a tribunal hearing on December 11, the employment judge ordered Reactive Solutions FM to pay Ms Hargreaves £44,489.17.

The judge found that due to the company’s failure to make adjustments, Ms Hargreaves resorted to working longer hours which 'increased her levels of stress and potentially exacerbated the rate of deterioration of her vision'.

Northwich Guardian: Paula Hargreaves Paula Hargreaves (Image: Supplied)

“The tribunal felt that Ms Hargreaves gave convincing evidence of the anger, distress, upset, frustration, worry, anxiety, mental distress, fear, grief, anguish, humiliation, unhappiness, stress and depression this treatment caused her,” a report read.

“The failure to make reasonable adjustments was inexcusable, significant and despite encouragement from Ms Hargreaves, was simply not taken seriously by her managers.

“She witnessed repeated failures over a prolonged period and was left feeling increasingly unsupported.”

Reactive Solutions FM did not attend the hearing.

One month on and Ms Hargreaves says they have not contacted her to apologise or arrange payment.

Reflecting on the judge’s verdict, Ms Hargreaves said: “It was never about the money. It was nice to get a bit of justice, to know that you were right to stand up for yourself.

“You should fight for what is right, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I've lost two years of my life trying to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Attempts have been made to contact Reactive Solutions FM and no response has been forthcoming.