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Employer not required to know employee “disabled” for the purposes of the 1995 Act

Gallop v Newport City Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1583

Related Member(s):
Karon Monaghan QC, Sarah Hannett
Related Practice Area(s):
Employment Law, Discrimination and Equality
Court:

The appellant was suffering from a stress-related illness brought on by work-related stress. An Occupational Health Report had stated that his condition did not meet the legal definition of disability. His doctor had diagnosed him with “reactive depression”. The local authority eventually dismissed the appellant for gross misconduct. The appellant brought claims for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The appellant’s disability discrimination case was dismissed, as it was held that although he was disabled for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, his employers had no constructive knowledge of that disability and had been entitled to rely on the advice of its occupational health advisors.

Held: provided the employer had actual or constructive knowledge of the facts constituting the employee’s disability it did not need to know that the consequences of such facts were that the employee was a “disabled person” as defined by the Act. Although an employer should correctly seek assistance and guidance from an Occupational Health Report or other medical evidence, it is for the employer to make a factual judgment as to whether or not the employee is disabled and it cannot simply “rubber stamp” an external opinion.

Karon Monaghan QC and Laura Prince were involved in this case.