Employer wins appeal over worker’s disability discrimination claim
An employer has won an appeal against a tribunal’s decision that an employee could be classified as disabled during two periods of sick leave.
The case involved an employee who had two lengthy periods of absence from work; the first was for work-related stress and the second for a combination of migraines, headaches and stress. She was later dismissed and so she took legal action claiming unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
The claims were upheld by the employment tribunal. The judge held that the employee had a mental impairment that had a substantial adverse effect on her normal day to day activities. This was enough to classify her as disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the Act).
However, that decision has been overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. It held that there was no evidence of an adverse effect on day to day activities during the first or second periods of sickness. The only evidence the employee had given was that she withdrew from socialising and going to the theatre.
She gave no evidence of any effect on concentration or memory or any other adverse effect which might have qualified as a disability under the Act. It followed therefore that the judge’s decision that she was suffering a disability due to mental impairment could not stand. The employer’s appeal was allowed.
Please contact John Carter if you would more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.