Thanks to Karen Jackson of didlaw for preparing this case summary .
Is cutting off email access for a sick employee a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) which triggers the reasonable adjustment duty? Does the Vento uplift in Simmons v Castle (CA) apply in the employment tribunal?
Yes and no respectively, held the EAT in Chawla v Hewlett Packard Ltd.
In a case of "almost unmanageable proportions" arising from three grievances, four ET1s and five preliminary hearings, the employment tribunal held that the employer was liable for a number of discriminatory acts.
The EAT agreed with the employment tribunal's decision on liability. The PCP of allowing no email access caused substantial disadvantage and triggered the duty to make reasonable adjustments. Delaying Mr Chawla's joining of the employer's share purchase plan was direct discrimination. Failure to pay a retention bonus was not discrimination, nor was forcing the employee to deal with company lawyers around his grievances, nor forbidding co-workers from communicating with him. A claim for harassment failed.
On remedy, no award had been made for loss of earnings because the liability issues established had only a "fractional influence" on the employee's illness. The employer's default exacerbated the illness but did not cause it. The EAT held that the employment tribunal had erred in making no injury to feelings award in respect of stress generated by the reasonable adjustments failure. The EAT increased the overall award from £5,000 to £8,000, but in doing so said specifically that the rationale for the uplift inSimmons does not apply to litigation in the employment tribunal.