Perceived disability discrimination: Employers beware

The issue of perceived disability has, for the first time, been directly addressed by the tribunal.  In the case of Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey UKEAT/0260/16, the employer rejected the claimant’s job application as it perceived that the claimant had a progressive condition. Mrs Coffey was a police constable in Wiltshire and had some hearing loss that placed her just outside national standards for hearing loss for the police.  However, following national guidance, the Wiltshire Constabulary arranged a practical functionality test for Mrs Coffey, which she passed, enabling her to work as a constable.  The tribunal found that a person with the same abilities as Ms Coffey, whose condition the employer did not perceive to be likely to deteriorate in the same way, would not have been treated in the same way.

Niki Avraam, Employment Partner comments: This case, the first to directly address perceived disability discrimination, clearly confirms that perceived disability discrimination claims are permissible.  Employers whose actions are based on assumption will be penalised.

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Howat Avraam Solicitors provide Commercial, Employment and Contract Dispute advice to companies and business owners. As business owners ourselves, we have a pragmatic in-house approach to resolving issues before they arise by working alongside our clients. We are commercial, practical and entrepreneurial in our approach to legal services.

To discuss any employment matter on a no obligation basis, please contact Niki Avraam, Employment Partner, on 020 3735 6708 or email Niki at Niki.Avraam@hasolicitors.co.uk. Alternatively, visit our website at www.howatavraamsolicitors.co.uk.

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