The image appears to show a Mencap employee smoking beside an elderly man in a wheelchair, peering out between the carriers piled high on a tray.
The picture was posted to the disabled charity’s Facebook page by Charlotte Shaw, who was concerned after seeing the image shared online.
Shaw wrote in the caption of the image: "One of your staff in the Leicestershire area smoking whilst on the phone in Leicester shoving all her shopping bags on top of him with no care in the world.
"I don’t think she should work with vulnerable people."
She went on to identify the staff member depicted.
Steve Baker, regional director of services at Mencap, confirmed the charity had suspended the worker, the Guardian reported.
Baker said: "We are appalled by what is happening in the picture. After seeing it we immediately took action, and have suspended the support worker in question and reported the issue to the relevant local authority safeguarding team.
"We take the wellbeing of the people we support extremely seriously, and we expect and train our staff to deliver high quality care and support services. What we see here would fall well below that standard.
"Our priority now, as always, is ensuring that we offer the highest quality of care to our beneficiaries so they live the lives they choose."
People on Facebook were quick to vent their anger at the photo, with many describing it as "disgusting" and "heartbreaking".
One person claiming to be a carer wrote: "Too many vulnerable people are being neglected and it’s not acceptable. I treat people the way I would like to be treated. People put their trust into us."Suggest a correction