Changez Khan is successful for the Claimant in a 7-day disability discrimination trial

Published: 08/11/2016 | News

Changez Khan acted successfully  for the Claimant in a 7-day trial on disability discrimination (heard at Central London Employment Tribunal).

The Claimant was diagnosed with stress, anxiety and depression. This was exacerbated by an excessive workload and personal issues with his line manager. Amongst other things, it was alleged his line manager made repeated sexual jokes about him (so-called ‘banter’); mocked his disability; and gave him the cold shoulder in the office, sometimes turning his back on him mid-conversation.

HR did little to help. It failed to deal properly with a grievance against the line manager; it criticised the Claimant for his disability-related absences; and it penalised him by withholding discretionary sick pay. The Claimant, in the end, felt forced to resign.

Following a vigorously contested trial, the Tribunal upheld claims under s.15 EqA (discrimination arising from disability) and ss.20, 21 EqA (failure to make reasonable adjustments). It also upheld the claim for constructive dismissal.

The decision was fact-sensitive, but here are some points of potentially wider interest:

  • Withholding discretionary sick pay can – on the right facts – amount to unlawful discrimination under s.15 EqA. O’Hanlon v Commissioners for HM Revenue & Customs [2007] IRLR 404 distinguished; Nottinghamshire County Council v Meikle [2004] IRLR 703 followed;
  • Changing an employee’s line manager can be a reasonable adjustment under s.20 EqA;
  • Monitoring a vulnerable employee’s progress via frequent 1:1s can also be a reasonable adjustment.

Disability discrimination cases are often tricky, especially at the pleading stage. It is crucial at the outset to identify carefully the PCPs, substantial disadvantage, reasonable adjustments and PROMALA. Sometimes, this requires a little imagination.

Changez has a strong track record of representing both employees and employers before the Tribunal and obtaining favourable outcomes. He is part of the employment law team.