June 11, 2019
Whether an employer has knowledge of an employee’s disability is crucial in all claims of disability discrimination, but so too is when they obtained that knowledge.
In the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case of Baldeh v Churches Housing Association of Dudley & District Ltd, the EAT found that although the employer did not have knowledge of the Claimant’s disability at the time of dismissal, they did have knowledge at the appeal hearing. The EAT went on to hold that an appeal against a dismissal is “integral to the overall decision to dismiss”. As such, the previous decision of the Employment Tribunal that knowledge the employer received after their decision to dismiss was irrelevant, was overturned.
In addition to the above issue, the EAT found that the original Employment Tribunal had adopted the incorrect test when considering the Claimant’s claim that she had been discriminated for ‘something arising in consequence of her disability’. The Claimant had been dismissed, in part, because of her communication style, something she claimed to be a consequence of her disability. The Tribunal had found that the Claimant would have been dismissed for one of the other reasons given by her employer, but the EAT clarified that if the ‘something arising in consequence of her disability’ had had a material influence on the unfavourable treatment (the Claimant’s dismissal) this was sufficient.
Disability Discrimination is a complex area of employment law and it is important that advice is sought at the earliest possible stage to ensure that issues are dealt with correctly. When dealing with disciplinary appeal hearings, it is important that employers take into account new information regarding any medical conditions that may amount to a disability.