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Engineer’s dismissal over pay amounted to disability discrimination

Posted: 25th October 2016   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

An employer discriminated against an engineer when it dismissed him because he refused to accept a reduced salary after becoming disabled.

That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in the case of a man employed as an engineer maintaining teller machines.

He became disabled as a result of back problems. He was unable to perform his previous duties and so he became a "key runner", which involved delivering keys and parts to engineers.

He retained his original salary. Several months later, the employer informed him that the key runner role was not permanent, and that he faced dismissal on medical grounds. The employee presented a grievance and the employer made the new role permanent, but at a reduced salary.

The employee refused to accept the reduction and was dismissed. The tribunal found that the employer had failed to make the reasonable adjustment of retaining the employee without a reduction in salary, and that his dismissal amounted to discrimination.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld that decision. It held that it was inherent in employment law that the duty to make reasonable adjustments might require an employer to treat an employee more favourably than others, including the need to allow him to perform a different role.

There was no reason in principle why the law should be read as excluding the requirement upon an employer to protect an employee's pay to counter his disadvantage through disability.

Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.