Personal trainer with a fear of sweat has won a disability claim

Personal trainer with a fear of body fluids has won a disability claim after refusing to pick up sweaty towels in the gym she works at

  • Ali Burton, 27, works as personal trainer for a Nuffield Health club in West Sussex
  • She suffers anxiety disorder ‘triggered’ by touching items with ‘hygiene issues
  • Despite telling bosses this she was challenged over not picking up used towels

A personal trainer who has an anxiety disorder triggered by body fluids has won a disability claim after refusing to pick up sweaty towels in the gym she works at.

Ali Burton, 27, who works for a Nuffield Health club in West Sussex, was forced to say no to bosses when they asked her to pick up used towels from the gym floor just weeks into the job.

Before starting the job in May 2019 the personal trainer had told managers that her anxiety disorder would be ‘triggered’ by touching items with ‘hygiene issues’, The Sun reports.

Ali Burton, 27, who works for a Nuffield Health in West Sussex, was forced to say no to bosses when they asked her to pick up used towels from the gym floor

However bosses ignored the severity of her disorder, instead concluding that Ms Burton was hostile and difficult to work with, the tribunal heard. 

Ms Burton has a condition which causes her to suffer panic attacks and emotional distress when coming into contact with something she considers to have ‘cleanliness issues’.

Speaking at an employment tribunal in Croydon, South London, Ms Burton told the judge that she was ’embarrassed at having to explain and justify my condition’, The Sun reports.

Gym goers using towels as they workout (file photo)

She added that her boss continued to ‘challenge’ her over why she couldn’t carry out certain tasks after she told them that she could not ‘physically do it’.

Bosses likened her decision to work at a gym to someone with a milk allergy taking a job as a barista, The Sun reports.

Despite changing her working rota to avoid tasks she was not comfortable with, the tribunal heard how managers continued to harass Ms Burton over her anxiety disorder – at which point she filed a complaint. 

A judge ruled that Ms Burton had suffered unlawful harassment. She is expected to receive compensation of an amount not yet decided. 

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