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Home / News / Disability discrimination: What is it, and how does it work?
Disability discrimination: What is it, and how does it work?
At a recent Employment Tribunal, a Claimant with autism appealed against her dismissal for breaching professional boundaries. Our Partner Lynsey Howes discusses the case.
In the EAT decision of Morgan v Buckinghamshire Council, the Tribunal was asked to consider whether the Claimant’s disability influenced her conduct sufficiently enough to prevent an objective justification for dismissal.
Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 applies when person A discriminates against person B because of an issue which has arisen in consequence of person B’s disability.
It applies when the action taken against the individual cannot be proven to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Section 15 does not apply if person A did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that person B had the disability.
In the case of Morgan v Buckinghamshire Council, it was established the Claimant had a number of disabilities, one of which was autism.
The Claimant was a supervising social worker, and had given a gift to a child for whom she had responsibility. Normal procedure was that the Claimant needed permission from her manager before she was able to provide a gift to a child.
The Claimant was aware of this requirement and had not obtained the necessary consent before giving the gift.
The Tribunal concluded that the Claimant had been fairly dismissed. The Tribunal further decided that the dismissal was not capable of giving rise to a claim under section 15 of the Equality Act as it could be justified.
The Claimant appealed. The EAT found that the Tribunal had not erred in law. The Claimant was aware of the professional boundaries that needed to be followed and had concluded reasonably that she had breached them.
The Tribunal had not taken into account any other conduct of the Claimant and had not penalised the Claimant for her autism.
The decision was based on the facts of the case and the rules which the Claimant knew about and had breached. The Claimant’s disability was not the influencing factor in her dismissal, it was her conduct.