The EAT held that a long-term refusal to return to work due to the stress of unresolved issues there was not necessarily a disability within the Equality Act.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in J v DLA Piper had held that a disability requires there to be an ‘impairment’, a mental condition rather than simply a reaction to adverse circumstances – but that if the tribunal finds that the claimant’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities has been substantially impaired by symptoms characteristic of depression for 12 months or more, it would in most cases be likely to conclude that he or she was indeed suffering ‘clinical depression’ (ie an impairment) rather than simply a reaction to adverse circumstances.
In Herry v Dudley Metropolitan Council www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2016/0101_16_1612.html there had been been long-term absence due to the ‘stress’ of issues at work. The EAT upheld the tribunal’s decision that he was not disabled because there was no impairment and no long-term substantial effect. The EAT clarified that a reaction to adverse circumstances may in some cases be long-term. Depending on the evidence, there may be no ‘impairment’ despite the fact that it is long-term. However, what the EAT says here should be approached with caution. For more, see Mental health: Is there a ‘disability’ within the EqA?>Long-term unwillingness to return to work.
In Herry the EAT also upheld the tribunal’s decision that the claimant’s dyslexia was not a disability within the Equality Act. He had required adjustments for the tribunal hearing, but that was not a normal day-to-day activity, and it did not mean the dyslexia had a substantial effect in his work as a teacher. The claimant had not shown there was a substantial effect within the Equality Act. For more see Disability: ‘Normal day-to-day activities’.
Blog by Diana Kloss on this case: What is a mental impairment?