The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal held there was associative direct discrimination when the mother of a disabled child was dismissed.
In McCorry & others as the committee of the Ardoyne Association v McKeith (bailii.org) the claimant had a disabled child who was cared for by a family friend. Her manager sometimes insisted she take time off to care for her daughter.
The appeal court upheld a decision that the dismissal was not because of disruption to the organisation, but because of the child’s disability. Her claim for associative direct discrimination succeeded. Her manager believed the claimant’s place was at home with her disabled daughter rather than at work, a view which the industrial tribunal described as ‘profoundly wrong’.
This case related to direct discrimination. The reasonable adjustment duty on an employer only applies if the claimant herself has a disability, so it would not apply here. However the claimant may have other rights in respect of a disabled child such as requesting flexible working.
The Equality Act does not apply in Northern Ireland. This case was decided on the basis of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended in Northern Ireland. However courts in the rest of the UK would be likely to reach the same result.