The EAT held that a mistaken belief by an employee that her disability would be adversely affected by a change in working arrangements was not sufficient causal link with the disability.
Therefore, said the EAT, s.15 of the Equality Act (discrimination arising from disability) did not apply in this case, and it did not matter whether the employer’s action was justified.
The claimant had osteoarthritis, which was a disability. She found her symptoms worsened in cold and damp. She did packing in a warehouse, and the employer introduced new arrangements where she would have to do more work near the doors, which opened to let vehicles in and out. She refused, saying that area would be more cold and damp. She was given a written warning. According to measurements by the employer that area was not significantly more cold or damp, compared with the rest of the warehouse.
The employment tribunal upheld her claim under s.15 EqA, but the EAT reversed this. The EAT said that because her belief about that area being cooler and damper was mistaken, there was not the required causal link between her refusal and the disability.
However this case should be treated with some caution.
The case is iForce v Wood, EAT 2019 www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2019/0167_18_0301.html