Evidence and knowledge of disability discrimination
21 September 2018 #Discrimination
In a judgment published this week in the case of Mutombo-Mpania v Angard Staffing Solutions, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld a decision that:
- an employee who suffered from essential hypertension but had advised his employer that he had no disability was not, on the evidence he provided, a disabled person; and
- the employer could not reasonably have been expected to know that he was disabled.
On his application form for employment with Angard, which provides casual staff to the Royal Mail Group, the employee indicated that he was not disabled and did not disclose any disability on the health form he also completed.
He worked for approximately for one year, mainly on late shifts finishing at 10pm. He was then offered, and accepted, 8 weeks of night shifts over the Christmas period. Before this period of night shifts started, he emailed Angard stating that his health condition did not allow him to work regular night shifts and that he would like to be booked for shifts ending at 10pm. He did not provide any specifics connecting his health problems to his ability to do night work.
In the end, the employee did some night shifts but failed to turn up for four of the nights. Royal Mail informed Angard that they did not wish the employee to return to work for them and his engagement was terminated. He bought employment tribunal claims, including claims of disability discrimination.
Disability discrimination law protects individuals with a physical or mental impairment and which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
An employer cannot be liable for most forms of disability discrimination unless it knew, or should have known, about the individual's disability. The exception to this is indirect discrimination (which was not in issue in this case).
The ET rejected his disability discrimination claims on the basis that he had not presented evidence to show he was a disabled person and that, even if he was disabled, it was not reasonable for the employer to have known that he was. The EAT upheld this decision on both points.
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