Proving disability

In the following case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that an employer did not have constructive knowledge of an employee’s disability after he had denied having one.

Background

In that case, the Claimant carried out casual work for Royal Mail. Although he suffered from high blood pressure for which he took medication, he did not disclose the condition on his job application form and stated on the form that he did not consider himself to have a disability. He had regularly worked night shifts for about a year before he sent an e mail saying that his “health condition” did not allow him to work regular night shifts and asked to be put on a day shift. He did not provide any explanation of the health problems that affected his ability to do night work. After the Claimant failed to turn up for work on nights, his contract for Royal Mail was terminated.

Employment tribunal decision

The Employment Tribunal (ET) dismissed the Claimant’s claim for disability discrimination, ruling that his employer did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the Claimant had a disability.  The Claimant had expressed a desire not to work a regular night shift but produced no evidence of why this had an impact on his condition or why this was caused by his impairment. Although the Claimant’s reference to a ‘health condition’ should have encouraged the employer to make enquiries into his health, it was insufficient to infer constructive knowledge on behalf of the employer.

Employment Appeal Tribunal decision

The EAT dismissed the Claimant’s appeal, ruling that individuals who argue that they are disabled must provide evidence of the long-term adverse impacts of their impairment on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This includes referring to particular activities that the individual cannot undertake. Merely referring to symptoms of the impairment is not sufficient. In addition, the EAT confirmed that the ET was correct to find that the employer could not reasonably have been expected to know that the Claimant was disabled.

Comment

This case demonstrates the importance tribunals put on individuals providing evidence of the impact their alleged disability has on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities and the significance of whether or not the individual has disclosed their disability.

Mutombo-Mpania v Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd (UKEAT/0002/17)