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Disability Discrimination: Meeting the definition of "disabled" under the Equality Act

26 October 2018
In the case of Mutombo-Mpania v Angard Staffing Solutions Limited UKEATS/002/18/JW, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed the necessity of the relationship between the day-to-day activity being relied upon and the impact of any such impairment upon the activity in discharging the burden of proof upon a Claimant in evidencing their disability discrimination claim.

The Claimant commenced employment in November 2015 for an organisation which provided casual staff to the Royal Mail Group. There were issues surrounding the Claimant's non-attendance at work on four occasions between November and December 2016 which resulted in the organisation confirming to the Claimant that his services would no longer be required. The Claimant submitted a number of claims to the Employment Tribunal as a result, including disability discrimination, for which the Claimant sought to rely upon his impairment of Essential Hypertension.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled to determine whether the Claimant met the statutory test to be considered "disabled" under section 6 of the Equality Act 2010. Such section outlines that;

A person (P) has a disability if—

(a) P has a physical or mental impairment, and

(b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

On consideration of the test, the Employment Tribunal determined that the Claimant was not a disabled person. The Claimant had failed to outline the impact of his impairment upon his day-to-day activities.

It was noted that the Claimant on joining the organisation did not disclose any disability or condition and further the Claimant denied suffering from any disability. As such the Tribunal did not find any actual or constructive knowledge of the Claimant's disability on the part of the organisation and the Claimant's claim for disability discrimination failed.

On appeal, the Claimant argued that the Employment Tribunal had erred on a number of grounds including determining there was no constructive knowledge of disability, as the Claimant argued the Respondent had not taken any steps to ascertain the medical position despite the Claimant informing he had a "health condition."

The EAT clarified that in such a claim the burden of proof is on the Claimant to evidence that he satisfies the test as outlined in section 6 Equality Act 2010. The Claimant provided no information about particular activities, work related or otherwise, that he was unable to undertake or that were adversely affected by his impairment.

The Claimant had on a number of occasions worked night shifts and as such the employer had no reason to believe that he was unable to carry out such activities or that the Claimant's health condition impacted upon the carrying out of such activities.

The Claimant had failed to provide evidence of what particular day-to-day activities would be affected by his condition, although it was not in dispute that working day shifts could constitue a day-to-day activity. Without any understanding as to what the Claimant found difficult, the Employment Tribunal had correctly concluded that the Claimant had failed to discharge the burden of proof on him to as to the effects of his purported disability.

Further Reading