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Disability Discrimination

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Does a tribunal need to consider the issue of 'substantial adverse effect' before the question of impairment in a disability discrimination claim?

No, held the EAT in Khorochilova v Euro Rep Limited.

The Claimant was employed by the Respondent to manage its cricket colony (not an outpost ringing to the sound of leather on willow, but a place for breeding insects as food for reptiles). Following her dismissal, she brought a number of claims against the Respondent including disability discrimination.

The Claimant claimed that she suffered from a disability ('Mixed Personality Disorder'), which made her 'somewhat obsessive' and a bit of a 'perfectionist'. The tribunal, at a Preliminary Hearing, held that she was not disabled because there was insufficient evidence that she suffered from that condition or that it had a substantial adverse impact on her.

The Claimant appealed on the basis that the tribunal should have considered the issue of substantial adverse effect before that of impairment in this case.

The EAT rejected the appeal. Although the tribunal did not have to apply a rigid sequential approach to these issues, there was no error in dealing with them in the way the tribunal had done (in the order they appear in the relevant legislation). Further, the Claimant's medical report, which was 7 years old at the time of the hearing, made no specific mention of the condition and the evidence of the impact on her day to day activities was not satisfactory. The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision to dismiss the Claimant's claims.

Thanks to James English of Ward Hadaway for preparing this case summary.