Case law: Employers should consider reasonable adjustments for disabled employees when changing their work environment
Employers should ensure they identify reasonable adjustments required for disabled employees, and act on them, when changing their working environment - or risk legal claims.
This update was published in Legal Alert - January 2018
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A disabled employee had mobility problems. Her employer identified a number of reasonable adjustments that should be made for her, including a new desk and adjustable chair, but nothing was done about these until office changes were made around six months later.
There was no consultation with her before the changes – her employer merely notified her of them by email – and the changes did not incorporate all of the recommended adjustments. Particularly, her desk was in the wrong place.
She resigned and claimed constructive dismissal and disability related harassment, as she was so disappointed and distressed.
There is a constructive dismissal when an employer has done something that is so fundamentally inconsistent with the employer/employee relationship (this is a 'repudiatory breach'), that the employee is entitled to treat themselves as dismissed.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld her claims. It found that the office was a worse environment for her after the changes as there were hazards and other obstacles that had not been there before, and it was not a fit and proper workplace for her. This, together with other conduct on the employer's part, had breached the implied duty of trust and confidence between employer and employee.
The case was remitted to the Employment Tribunal for reconsideration.
- Employers should ensure they identify reasonable adjustments required for disabled employees, and act on them, particularly when changing workplace arrangements - or risk legal claims against them
Case ref: Conry v Worcestershire Hospital Acute NHS Trust UKEAT/0093/17/LA
Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.