Disability Discrimination – Disability related discrimination

It was sufficient for the “something arising in consequence” of the disability to have a “material influence” on the unfavourable treatment: the fact that there may have been other causes as well was not an answer to the claim. Further, an employment tribunal should have considered whether an employer had gained actual or constructive knowledge of a claimant’s disability by the time it rejected her appeal against dismissal, rather than simply considering whether the employer had knowledge of her disability when it reached the initial decision to dismiss.

The Claimant was dismissed by the Respondent at the end of a six-month probationary period. It was accepted that she was disabled by depression. She claimed that her dismissal was an act of disability related discrimination under section 15 EqA 2010. The ET rejected the claim because: (a)They found that the Respondent did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that she was disabled at the time of the dismissal; (b)They said there was no evidence that her behaviour towards her colleagues (which was part of the reason for her dismissal) “arose in consequence of” her disability; (c)There were other reasons for her dismissal in addition which were sufficient; (d)The dismissal was justified under section 15(1)(b) EqA 2010. The EAT allowed the appeal because of errors in relation to each stage of the reasoning: (a)Although the Respondent did not know about the Claimant’s disability at the time of the dismissal, they may have acquired actual or constructive knowledge of it before the rejection of her appeal and the rejection of the appeal formed part of the unfavourable treatment of which she was complaining; (b)There was in fact some evidence that her depression caused the relevant behaviour which the ET ought to have considered; (c)It was sufficient for the “something arising in consequence” of the disability to have a “material influence” on the unfavourable treatment: the fact that there may have been other causes as well was not an answer to the claim; (d)The ET failed to consider the section 15(1)(b) defence properly; in particular, they failed to address the question whether dismissal was a proportionate response.

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