Case law: Employers need to clarify which of an employee’s impairments amount to a disability
Employers may need to press employees with multiple physical conditions to clarify which they allege are disabilities requiring them to consider ‘reasonable adjustments’, or risk having insufficient information to know whether employees are disabled or which adjustments it is reasonable to make.
This update was published in Legal Alert - December 2014
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At a preliminary hearing, the employee gave oral evidence that she suffered from several different conditions. As a result, the Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled that she was disabled – although this evidence was different from statements in her claim form and from the answers she gave when her employer asked for more information.
The employer appealed on the basis that the ET had not identified the precise physical impairment(s) amounting to a disability. Without that information it was not possible to assess whether it knew or ought to have known the employee was disabled and, if it did, what reasonable adjustments it should have made.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that the ET needed to identify the impairment(s) amounting to a disability and remitted the issue back to the ET to do so.
- Employers should ensure they identify all alleged impairments claimed by an employee, and investigate which amount to a disability (ie have a substantial and adverse long-term effect on their day-to-day activities). Otherwise they risk having insufficient information to investigate whether there is a disability and to decide which, if any, adjustments are reasonable to make.
Case ref: Morgan Stanley International v Posavec UKEAT/0209/13/BA
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