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Law: Clarity for Employers on decisions relating to Disability Discrimination

Employers can only make decisions based on evidence available at any point in time.

Hindsight and crystal balls are all well and good but have no place in seeking to penalise the employer.

A recent case (Richmond Adult Community College v Elizabeth McDougall Nov 2007 Court of Appeal) provided this clarification.

Ms McDougall applied for a job at the college and was accepted subject to the results of a medical examination.

The college subsequently informed her the offer was withdrawn as the results did not give medical clearance.

She claimed Disability Discrimination as she had a mental problem referred to as “delusional disorder with a differential diagnosis of schizo affective disorder”.

This was deemed a condition a few years previous but her doctor stated she was fit to work.

At the first hearing at the Employment Tribunal she failed in claiming Disability Discrimination because at the time of the employer decision she was not disabled.

At the next level, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, as time had then passed she had experienced a further relapse and therefore the EAT felt they could not disregard this later event.

However, finally at the Court of Appeal the employee succeeded in the decision that, what was being assessed was the basis of the employers decision, at the time the decision was made and the evidence at that time suggested she was not disabled.

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