Employee who stole fails with disability discrimination claim
The law provides wide-ranging protection against disability discrimination but that does not extend employees who’ve been found guilty of stealing.
This was illustrated in a recent case involving Mr A Wood, who worked for Durham County Council.
Mr Wood was found to have taken some items from Boots the Chemist without paying. He was accused of shoplifting and served with a fixed penalty notice.
The council dismissed him following the incident, so he brought a claim of disability discrimination. He claimed the shoplifting incident happened because he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative amnesia (PTSD).
The council accepted that his illness amounted to a disability but pointed to the fact that stealing was excluded from protection under Regulation 4(1)(b) of the Equality Act (Disability) Regulations 2010.
The Employment Tribunal found in favour of the council. It held that Mr Wood’s claim of disability discrimination had to fail because a tendency to steal was excluded from the Regulations as a protected condition.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld that decision.
Please contact Sorcha Monaghan if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.